Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Zeuorian Awakening

The Zeuorian Awakening
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of NetGalley!

Lexi’s no ordinary teenager. She was born with the ability to read minds and sense danger. But on her seventeenth birthday, she realized how different she was after transforming, literally that is. Now she’s developing powers stronger than a superhero. But she’s no superhero.

Far from it.

She has no control over her abilities and causes accidents every time she’s nervous or upset, which being a teenager is hard to avoid, especially when the most popular boys in school are fighting to be with her.

If that isn’t bad enough, a stranger is following her. She doesn't know who he is or what he wants, yet he knows all about her abilities and that she’s developing more. And . . . he’s her only hope of understanding why she’s changing and others are after her. What she learns will send her life into overdrive.

Okay so, this was out back in March, and before you all go crazy thinking I have the worlds biggest TBR (I mean, mine is pretty hefty but I prioritise review books) I've been having Kindle issues. My Kindle is kind of old, and for months now it's not been working, and I have no other way to read Kindle books because I kinda prefer, like actual books, you know, so I was pretty screwed. The NetGalley piled up and now it's June, and I'm about to start working my way through all of my NetGalley books from March. Some are going to be hella late, but I'll still review them anyway. Now that my Kindle is fixed and has finally decided to cooperate, I thought I'd delve in to what was next on my list. 

Just looking at the book on GoodReads it seems to get a lot of negative reviews, but I actually really enjoyed this book along with a few others. Alright, yeah, there were a few bits that were a bit like "really" but to be honest, I'm in the kind of mood were a bit of cliche and a bit of cheese is exactly what I need, and everyone has times like that so I'm not counting it as a negative. Towards the end, I will admit, it did get a bit much towards the end trying to work out who the Watcher was out of these two boys, because boy one was convinced he was this boy and I'd like to know why so hopefully we'll find out in the next book, especially as boy two is so obviously him, but there was a lot of back and forth between who it was and did get a bit repetitive at the end, but it was when the suspense was building so I was like "whatever". 

This book is all about aliens which was a nice surprise as I wasn't entirely sure what her deal was, and it's always great to read a book with a creature, shall we say, that you don't really see much. The book had a really cool, thought out mythology to go with it as well, and a great background for these people and complex politics and yeah. It was pretty damn easy to delve in to the world and the politics. But all this background on Lexi and what she is, is saved until nearer to the end and you still get a lot of information about her and her people without it being an info dump. 

I couldn't really put the book down to be honest, because once I started to read and started to connect to Lexi and got sucked in to the plot and the whole "who is the Watcher" "who's after her" "what's going to happen with her powers" and various other intrigues, I was hooked and couldn't get the pages to turn fast enough on my Kindle. I mean that literally, like, my Kindle is really slow right now because it's still being a pain in the ass even though it's fixed and so I'm clicking next and waiting and then clicking it a million times like "MOVE FASTER SHIT'S GETTING REAL" and then I have to go back because it suddenly decides to move it's ass and goes too far forward, and I have no patience when it's all tensiony and suspense and everything. 

There was so much backstory that's gradually revealed to you as you read because Lexi has some memory issues shall we say, and each time you learned a new thing, it added to the intrigue, especially if, like me, you were trying to work out who the hell the Watcher was, what the hell she is and what the hell was going on. Literally, I was totally wrong on all counts and I literally had no idea who the Watcher was, I mean, I suspected, but then I suspected everyone and his dog. If it was male it made my suspects list. So I was surprised but also like "oh yeah" at the same time. 

The main chunk of the book is all about Lexi and her powers and who's after her and her trying to come to grips with everything but there's a nice little romance plot going on. Lexi has like three guys after her, and rather than it being annoying it was actually just funny, especially with two of them being Watcher suspects it made the whole thing more interesting and more complicated. I enjoyed the romance to be honest, I felt like it wasn't the main focus, I wouldn't say it was entirely subtle, but it wasn't all up in your face every five seconds and it did keep you guessing. 

I actually really liked Lexi like I said, I found her easy to connect with and root for and sympathise for, I was entirely on her side as I was reading and I can't wait to see more of her in the next book. I liked Everett, he's an interesting character and I'm excited to see and learn more about him in the next book, and I loved the chemistry between him and Lexi. Tyler I actually liked, and I ALSO enjoyed his relationship/chemistry with Lexi....right up until he started being shady af and literally being the epitome of dodgy. I mean, I shrugged it off in the beginning because he was a great character but then he went straight to creepy town and I was like "woah okay". Having said that, I can't work out what his deal is because at the end it just made me go "hang on....why are you so convinced" but at the same time I think Everett is who he says he is so I'm just like "I KNOW SOMETHING IS GOING ON BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT" so I kinda need the next book like.....now. I mean.....it's going to be an interesting love triangle from what I can tell, I'm just hoping the next book explains why Tyler is so cray cray because I'm really hoping he's actually still a nice guy. 

Now, I'd like to make a little mention here. As I said, I scoped out some other reviews and there were plenty negative (sorry to keep mentioning it) but what really got me is the ones that are saying this is a rip off of Obsidian. Now. I LOVE Jennifer Armentrout. We all know it because I mention it every time I get to review one of her books or a book that's like hers. Have you noted how I have not yet mentioned how much I love her and how much this reminds me of her Lux books? That would be because it doesn't. It's entirely different. I mean yeah there's aliens pretending to be humans and everything but unlike in Lux Lexi knows about her powers she just doesn't know what she is. It's entirely different. 

Anyways, the plot was fairly complex, the narrative was entertaining and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Lexi because she does undergo some development over the course of the book, not much, but some, like I don't think she's going to be as gullible/easy to pull the wool over her eyes because so many people have lied she's got wise to it and everything. 

The Zeuorian Awakening (sorry, I'd have mentioned the actual title more but it's really tricky to spell because my Mac keeps changing it without me realising and then I'm like "whaaaat") is a fast paced, paranormal story that will grab you and keep you in the throes of suspense and intrigue until you finish the book. You'll actually be racing to finish it and then be totally gutted it's over because of how much you liked the world and characters and how much there still is to find out. There's a decent dose of romance, but there's also lots to that plot that isn't romance so it has something for everyone. I for one am super excited for the next books and to see what happens. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Fairy Keeper

Fairy Keeper
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher

Forget cute fairies in pretty dresses. In the world of Aluvia, most fairies are more like irritable, moody insects. Almost everyone in the world of Aluvia views the fairy keeper mark as a gift, but not fourteen-year-old Sierra. She hates being a fairy keeper, but the birthmark is right there on the back of her neck. It shows everyone she was born with the natural ability to communicate, attract, and even control the tiny fairies whose nectar is amazingly powerful. Fairy nectar can heal people, but it is also a key ingredient in synthesizing Flight, an illegal elixir that produces dreaminess, apathy and hallucinations. She’s forced to care for a whole hive of the bee-like beasties by her Flight-dealing, dark alchemist father.

Then one day, Sierra discovers the fairies of her hatch are mysteriously dead. The fairy queen is missing. Her father’s Flight operation is halted, and he plans to make up for the lost income by trading her little sister to be an elixir runner for another dark alchemist, a dangerous thug. Desperate to protect her sister, Sierra convinces her father she can retrieve the lost queen and get his operation up and running.

The problem? Sierra’s queen wasn’t the only queen to disappear. They’re all gone, every single one, and getting them back will be deadly dangerous.

Sierra journeys with her best friend and her worst enemy -- assigned by her father to dog her every step -- to find the missing queens. Along the way, they learn that more than just her sister’s life is at stake if they fail. There are secrets in the Skyclad Mountains where the last wild fairies were seen. The magic Sierra finds there has the power to transform their world, but only if she can first embrace her calling as a fairy keeper.

Okay, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this, I'd literally just DNF'd a different book from the same publisher and was feeling a bit blah. I was pleasantly surprised with this book, and after some initial misgivings, I found myself enjoying the book immensely. 

The book sucks you in to the story and the world, a world which is fantastically created on the page, and springs to life around you, making it easy to forget to the world and get lost entirely in the book. The world is literally so rich, and so is it's mythology/lore and so on and so on. You can really sink your teeth in to the book and the world, and I found myself utterly enchanted with the world and the characters and the creatures inhabiting it. I also immensely enjoyed the unique little twists to the story, I mean, if it's unique, I love it anyway. 

This is a ridiculously good debut, I mean, I didn't even realise that it was a debut it's that well written. The pace is perfect. The prose is compelling, and beautiful and just....brilliant. There is so much emotion in this book, that oozes off the page along with the atmosphere. 

A lot of the emotion comes from the characters (obviously) and their relationships with each other. The characters are so well written, with so much depth and so realistic they come alive as you're reading. The love between Sierra and Phoebe is just....incredible to read, the loyalty and the realness and the everything. The relationship between Sierra and Nell was fascinating, Nell is supposed to be her best friend but there's so much hostility that's not even disguised and distrust between the two of them, it was so strange, and then you watch them develop and form some level of respect for each other. There's awkwardness between Sierra and Corbin that I think everyone with a male best friend can relate to in some capacity, particularly the jealousy. There's also disgust, terror, resentment, anger, confusion, mixed feelings that can't quite be described, and all of these change and become other feelings as the relationships change and the characters develop. This book is brimming with emotion and you feel that emotion as you're reading, you feel what the characters feel and you root for them and it's an emotional journey. 

I don't think I've ever actually read a book with this much emotion in it, so well done that it's coming off the pages and hitting you with it in waves. The book keeps you reading as you follow the journey and all the pitfalls along the way, and you end up losing track of time as you read until the books over and you're just like "uhhh....what day is it? What YEAR is it?" because you literally spent hours in the world of the book and now have no idea what the hell has been going on in the real world. 

The plot was so strong, that as you finally reach the end you leave the book feeling satisfied with it and how it ended. There was no anti climax or predictability in the book, and I truly loved getting lost in the world and going on the journey with the characters and not knowing what was going to happen next. I'm very excited to see what else the author is going to do, what's going to come next from her. I'm kinda hoping for another story set in this world because I was so sad to leave it and this is definitely going to be a re-read until I can probably quote the whole ting, kind of book! 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Fire Children

The Fire Children
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!

Two children escape the darkness of their underground dwellings, to find adventure, magic and terrible danger await anyone who ventures above ground.

Fifteen years have passed since Mother Sun last sent her children to walk the world. When the eclipse comes, the people retreat to the caverns beneath the Kaladim, passing the days in total darkness while the Fire Children explore their world. It's death to even look upon them, the stories say.

Despite the warnings, Yulla gives in to her curiosity and ventures to the surface. There she witnesses the Witch Women -- who rumors say worship dead Father Sea, rather than Mother Sun -- capturing one of the Children and hauling her away. Yulla isn't the only one who saw the kidnapping; Ember, the last of the Fire Children, reveals himself to Yulla and implores her to help.

Trapped up above and hunted by the witches and the desert wind, Yulla and Ember must find a way free his siblings and put a stop to the Witch Womens' plans, before they can use the Fire Children to bind Mother Sun herself.

Okay, so this book is super awesome, it's imaginative and original and it brings a new world to life right off the page  and I loved it! 

I'm a big lover of worlds that have some rich mythology and history to them, and this book has that in spades, without giving you too much information at once, you learn all about the folklore of the world of the book, and it's fascinating. It made me sad that the book wasn't longer as I loved the world so much and was so engrossed in it while I was reading. 

I was hooked from the start of the book, the writing in the book is very strong, smooth and flows perfectly from point to point. What hooked me along with the writing, was the premise of the book, the characters and the way they prepared for the darkness, the ideas in the book were so interesting and they caught your own interest at the same time. 

Yulla was a great character, she was easy to connect to and get on side with, her narrative was engaging and entertaining. Yulla was very realistic and believable, as was her relationship with her sister, not that I have any siblings to compare to really, but it seemed to be fairly realistic and very natural and organic. 

The book had a very strong start and once Yulla was above ground the pace picked up as did the plot, there was lots of action, and while I enjoyed reading all the action, I did get a bit confused at one point or two and find it hard to keep following, but at the same time, the pick up in the action was enjoyable. I wasn't really big on the romance either. Ember was great, and so were the other Fire Children, I enjoyed reading about them, but Ember is like a god of sorts to Yulla and so I found the romance between the two a bit weird, as well as the fact that it came out of nowhere and seemed a bit sudden and a bit insta-love kind of. 

Overall, however, it was an enjoyable fantasy read, with rich lore and mythology and a world that is engrossing. The characters are realistic and believable and bring the world to life even more. I found myself fascinated with the book and the ideas behind it, even though I found a few bits a bit hard to follow. 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Wishing For Wednesday #45

Happy Wednesday guys!
First up, all I'm going to say about this book is....Guillermo del Toro, like need I say more?
The second one is Joe Abercrombie, and again....do I need to say more?
Both of this weeks are kind of like....duh of course it's on the TBR!


"You are food. Those muscles you flex to walk, lift, and talk? They're patties of meat topped with chewy tendon. That skin you've paid so much attention to in mirrors? It's delicious to the right tongues, a casserole of succulent tissue. And those bones that give you the strength to make your way in the world? They rattle between teeth as the marrow is sucked down slobbering throats. These facts are unpleasant but useful. There are things out there, you see, that don't cower in holes to be captured by us and cooked over our fires. These things have their own ways of trapping their kills, their own fires, their own appetites."

Jim Sturges is your typical teen in suburban San Bernardino—one with an embarrassingly overprotective dad, a best friend named "Tubby" who shares his hatred of all things torturous (like gym class), and a crush on a girl who doesn't know he exists. But everything changes for Jim when a 45-year old mystery resurfaces, threatening the lives of everyone in his seemingly sleepy town. Soon Jim has to team up with a band of unlikely (and some un-human) heroes to battle the monsters he never knew existed.

Trollhunters is out July 7th, pre-order your copy...here!
Add it to your TBR....here!

Half A War

Words are weapons

Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.

Only half a war is fought with swords

The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.

Sometimes one must fight evil with evil

Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

Half A War is out July 16th, pre-order your copy....here! 
Add it to your TBR....here!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Song Of The Sea Maid

Song Of The Sea Maid
Rating: 4.5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of Bookbridgr

In the 18th century, Dawnay Price is an anomaly. An educated foundling, a woman of science in a time when such things are unheard-of, she overcomes her origins to become a natural philosopher.

Against the conventions of the day, and to the alarm of her male contemporaries, she sets sail to Portugal to develop her theories. There she makes some startling discoveries - not only in an ancient cave whose secrets hint at a previously undiscovered civilisation, but also in her own heart. The siren call of science is powerful, but as war approaches she finds herself pulled in another direction by feelings she cannot control.

So, some of you may remember I reviewed The Visitors and absolutely loved it, so I was eager to get my hands on this and I was not disappointed! I mean, it sounded intriguing, there's all these allusions to mermaids and so on so my curiosity would have been sparked regardless of who the author was! But I loved Mascull's debut offering as I said! 

I loved the entire premise, a woman of the 18th century getting in to the field of science. It was something that was near on impossible if not completely impossible back in those times, women couldn't really do anything, so I was incredibly intrigued by this particular plot. I've been wracking my brains to try and remember if I'd ever actually heard of anything like this happening, and I have not. 

Like with The Visitors, the writing in this book was absolutely beautiful, it was a joy to read and compelling enough to keep you enthralled. The prose flowed across the pages, lyrical and vivid, with a plot that was incredibly intriguing and various settings that pull you in to the world of the book. 

I actually found this a fairly easy read, meaning that I settled down and read it in a couple of hours, I really wish it had been longer to be honest as I was sad to see the world and characters go. There's not much action in the book, but it's the compelling plot and beautiful writing that keeps you reading. As I'm sure most of you know, I'm mostly reading fantasy lately and so not much is measuring up seeing as how action packed my fantasy books are (this sentence is terrible grammar but my brain is mush right now), so it says a lot that with a book like this, that is not so heavy on the action, managed to capture my attention and keep me glued to the pages and have me raving about it! 

Due to the pace of the book, I feel like you really get to know the characters and really delve in to them, especially Dawnay. Dawnay was such an interesting character to me, mostly for the reasons I already mentioned, because you know...woman....18th century...science. Mind blowing. Like I said, I can't think of any real life instances of this off the top of my head. But surely there must have been one? I hear you all cry. Well, while my own personal historical knowledge falls short, the authors does not, and that's were the authors note comes in because we get a few examples of real life Dawnay's, as well as a book that I'm going to be needing to get my hands on because now I'm so fascinated. It truly is a hidden history, like the author says. 
This book has given me the urge to go on a hunt to find a real life Dawnay, so I'm going to be looking in to each and every female scientist mentioned in the authors note. 

Speaking of the authors note, it's a mine of information laid out concisely. I found the section on the cave paintings rather interesting as well, and sadly I am one of those people who pictures the cave paintings being done by a male in a loin cloth or something. I suck at being a feminist. Mascull however, does not, and makes the point I should have thought about before as well as giving us some more information. I can't sing the praises of the author enough, not only for her wonderful book, but for her authors note, because it's a good few pages and it covers so much, the battle, the earthquake, the islands and more. I just love being given all of this information because I like knowing what's fact and what's fiction and learning something, although to be honest, I learned a fair bit from the book itself as well as the author note. 

The only thing that bothered me only bothered me because I'm a history nerd. Any other reader wouldn't have a problem with it, and I feel like such a pain in the ass mentioning it but it's why this has got 4.5. Looking at the romance objectively, it was very well written, subtle and not at all the main focus of the plot, at least not until the very end. Looking at it from my point of view, my brain is just like "this is going against everything I know about the 18th century", but then my brain was like "oh but they really do have a connection and some chemistry" so I was a bit torn! I think another thing that bothered me about it was that I was of the opinion that she's such a smart woman, and I didn't really feel like she needed to have a romance going on, I was doing the whole "You are a strong, independent young woman" (as independent as you could be in those days anyway). I was also a bit sad there wasn't much more of a struggle shown, because things seemed to easy at times and some of the men were so accepting. But I hate saying this because you know.....loved the book anyways and I loved the authors first book! 

So anyway, Song of the Sea Maid is a beautifully written, clearly well researched novel that will enthral you with it's compelling plot and fantastic writing, as well as allowing you to explore a hidden history of sorts. You pick up information as you read, and the setting is vivid, the time period brought to life before your very eyes. The compact yet knowledgable (that's not the word I was looking for  I don't think!) authors note will pique your interest even more in this aspect of history, and round out the book by giving you more information. Information that would have bogged the plot down had it been included, although the plot does fine on it's own on the knowledge front! 

Monday, 22 June 2015

From A High Tower

From A High Tower
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!

When a man is caught stealing from a walled garden owned by a strange woman, he bargains away his youngest daughter in return for food for his family. The woman, rumored to be a witch, takes the golden-haired child and locks her away in a high tower. Sixteen years later, Giselle has lived an isolated life, but her adoptive mother has trained her in Air magic, and Giselle must use her new skills on a quest to avenge her broken heart...

So, Titan sent me a Heralds of Valdemar omnibus to review a while ago, and I loved it and was eager to read more of the authors work, so when this showed up in the post I was crazy excited, especially as it sounds like Rapunzel but reimagined. 

From A High Tower has Lackey's usually original twist, and the book has many unique elements to contribute to this, and a few other elements to keep every type of reader enthralled. I found myself quite surprised when the witch who had taken Giselle turned out to actually be nice and had actually raised her as if she was her own mother, rather than cruel witch you usually connect with Rapunzel. 

I enjoyed the magical element, with the four elements and so on. The book was set in 19th century Germany, which I found to be an interesting time setting, and Lackey really brought it to life and sucked you in to the time period and the setting. The settings where vividly described and beautifully written. I loved the inclusion of a travelling troupe that's all Wild West-y and who do the (obviously) Wild West shows, it was certainly an interesting addition to have to the story. 

This book wasn't entirely problem free for me though, which I was kind of sad about because I'd loved the Valdemar books so much! There were a few action scenes, and those were totally awesome, but the action of the book was scattered about. The book is more about relationships, and friends and so on, so lacks in the action, and is mostly setting up for the ending. To be fair, things really do pick up towards the end! 
I found this book to be a tad slow paced at points, like there is a villain, but you don't really see the villain until towards the end of the book. 

Giselle I found it hard to connect with as I found her to be a bit bland most of the time, but I was fascinated by her powers. There where plenty of other colourful characters to enjoy in the book, including Captain Cody who was an incredibly interesting character. He's a good hearted person who just so happens to be a bit of a womaniser, it was an interesting combination. I also enjoyed Rosamund immensely and he particular brand of magic. 

There were some really nice atmospherically creepy passages to the book, and as someone who's been to the Black Forest and imagined that sort of scenario, I particularly loved the creepy Black Forest scene. Seriously, if you ever visit it, I guarantee once you're done noticing how pretty it is, your brain will be like "okay this is creepy....what was that? Was that a rabbit or a giant person eating monster!?". The Black Forest has that kind of vibe were you can easily picture creepy things happening like in the book. 

While I loved the Valdemar books, this one is getting a lower rating for me. Although I'd be interested in reading more of the Elementals books, this particular one was just a bit too slow paced and lacking in the action, to be quite to my taste, however I did enjoy the majority of the book and the originality in this particular retelling. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Almost King

The Almost King
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher

Aleks is the youngest of four brothers, each of whom has their future nice and predictably mapped out. Marriage, kids and so on, content to stay in their little village. But Aleks wants more than that life, more than living in his little village and working in his father's shop. He wants to travel, see the world....fly. So when he hears his parents talking about money or rather, the lack of it, he decides to save them some money and heads down south to find some form of work. 

When Aleks arrives down south there's a distinct lack of work, so he decides to enlist in the army. But the army isn't all it's believed to be. There's deception and corruption and when Aleks begins to realise this, he deserts. Fleeing to the north. It's there that he stumbles upon the life he always wanted, although that didn't really include being hunted down by a lieutenant determined to drag him back to Rensav. 

He finds friends, a home, an interesting job with a mildly crazy old inventor, and he also finds love. It's when his new inventor boss reveals his biggest project, that he also finds adventure and a skyship of his own to Captain. His adventure will take him to places no-one has ever ventured before. 

This series really does get better and better! I loved the first book when it came out, it had it's own brand of originality to it and we all know I love books that are a little bit different. There's an entirely different world, skyships, it has Tyrium that fuels most things, and it was totally different from anything I had read before, it was an easy to read fantasy that I quickly marked down as one I would read again and again, and would sit and wait eagerly for the next book. 

Now, this is a sequel, and as much as I loved Take Back the Skies and the characters and wanted to see what else happened to Cat after the heartbreaking ending and what happened to Matt and Ben, I was kind of glad that this had totally new characters, because I couldn't really see what would happen next in Cats world, and I love the idea of each of the books in the series showing a different part of the rather extensive world.

The world of Tellus is imaginative and richly vivid. The world building sucks you in to the book and you become lost to the real world as you galavant around Tellus with the characters. The book and it's world and characters completely take you out of reality and it's always a bit of a jolt when you surface from the book and back to the real world. The world of Tellus is clearly very extensive, and while I can work out where some of the countries may be based, Mericus and Siberene for example, others are a bit of a mystery. Throughout the book we hear bits and pieces about the other lands, but I'm itching to actually get to their books and learn all about them. 

Siberene is different to Anglya, Anglya is a mining country and seems to be like England with it's weather and so on, I'm fairly certain Anglya is based on England for some obvious reasons. Siberene is very monochrome, cold, dark, I was picturing Russia and winter and cold when I was reading haha.  From the sounds of it, each country has it's own different look and feel and the atmosphere of Siberene comes off the page and gets under your skin. 

While this is a sequel but not really a sequel, and had new characters and a new plot and a new setting to the first book, this book was linked to the first book nicely. It's linked without having the plot being taken over by threads from the previous book and basically being Skies part two. It was a little thing, that had importance to the plot as it's why Shulga was determined to hunt him down, but it wasn't the entire plot of the book and I kept thinking something huge was going to happen with it but then it didn't and it was dealt with and tied up nicely. The main plot of the book is Aleks fleeing the army and flying to the Stormlands and so on. 

I enjoyed the idea of the expedition to the Stormlands that no-one has ever managed to get through before, it had the kind of huge expeditions of history feel to it but in an entirely different way. I liked the questions and issues it raised, about the land being ruined by people and so on. I would imagine that's what some people would have thought before other lands which are now countries where colonized. But I liked that they didn't want to colonise it and destroy it. 

I can't really decide if this book is a little bit darker than the first one. I mean the first one was kinda dark with the whole kids thing, but maybe what I mean is that this one is a bit more violent with the army and how things are there and the whole Kara thing. This one just felt like it was a bit more mature or darker, or something than the first one. 

In the least rude way possible, the writing in this book has definitely improved. In the first book it was very easy to read, I sped through, and there where a few moments when it was quite cheesy and cliche, don't get me wrong I loved the first book and I don't really mind the odd cliche and cheese so it wasn't a problem for me. The writing in this book seemed more grown up, more mature and at another level to the first book. I can't really describe it, but I definitely thought there was a difference in the writing between the two books and a bit in the tone. But it was all good, like I'm just making a note that it's different! Which just means the series is getting better and better because I'm confident that the next book will be, again, on another level. I have no idea which bit we'll visit next though! 

There was a cutely, subtle romance that bloomed naturally and adorably, and even had a little bit of an obstacle in the form of an aunt whose comments had me snorting, chuckling and rolling my eyes! The romance also had some conflict with everything going on, and rather than being just for the sake of drama, it was all natural and organic and was just a perfectly written romance really! It was subtle and didn't take over the plot, it was as an addition to enhance rather than the main focus of the book.

The Almost King takes us on a sweeping journey across Siberene, we see the west and the village Aleks lives in, we see the south and the north and a fair amount of Siberene, as well as the Stormlands. So it's not like we get just a glimpse, we get a proper look at this other country that we heard so much about in the first book and saw briefly. We even see the exact place from the first book, and I loved the comments about it being the tourist area and the grass being imported for the tourists, and I had a chuckle remembering Cat noting it! She even gets a few mentions as well! 

The Almost King has everything you love in a good book, it's got romance, action, adventure and even, regrettably, heartbreak. Now it wasn't quite as heartbreaking as the death in the first book, but it was pretty up there to be honest. I think I'm so jaded by Game of Thrones that I'm reading books like this, and I'm thinking the worst is going to happen. I'm like "something really bad is going to happen, this person is going to get killed or something or something's going to go horrifically wrong" or "that character is going to screw this person over" and while there is a bit of betrayal and a death that literally had me like "NO OMG NO", I wasn't expecting them at all. Then the bits that I was expecting bad stuff to happen....nothing bad ever did so I was constantly being surprised with no idea what was going to happen next. 

Aleks was easy to connect with, I could relate to him quite well to be honest! I've had many of the same feelings he has regarding family, although not with an actual sibling! The dangers of having a cousin near enough the same age as you! Anyway, he was realistic, believable and very well created as was the rest of the colourful and lively cast of characters. Each is well developed with plenty of depth and dimensions to them. I really felt for him and felt everything he did regarding his brothers. 

Shulga reeked of shadiness and was so creepy and just ugh. I shuddered when I was reading about him multiple times he was kind of the perfect villain. The King wasn't what I was expecting, he was kind of a douche to be honest. But it did make a change as I was expecting him to be all nice and everything! I LOVED Luka, he made me laugh so much and he was so, so lively and vivid, and he jumped off of the page just slightly more than the others! But only slightly! He kind of reminded me a bit of Doc Brown as well if I'm honest haha. Aleks's brothers where an interesting bunch, but I was sad we didn't get to see more of them! I also really, really loved Zhora and Drazan and Raina and Ksenia and Bodan. The brothers where just brilliantly separate and together, their relationship brought a smile to my face as I was reading about them together. The Compass crew, well Ksenia reminded me a bit of Alice, and they were the perfect home away from home for Aleks and I felt like they all appreciated him more than his actual family from what I'd seen. I was so glad that Raina wasn't a love interest to make a love triangle, I loved Aleks and Raina's relationship and it was so well done. 

Saria was pleasantly surprising. I mean at the beginning I had this suspicion she was going to be horrible and he'd end up with Raina but I was pleasantly surprised with how things panned out. Saria was actually quite a brilliant character, and the perfect match for Aleks. I loved her right up until she did the thing. I kept thinking she'd been forced in to doing it or coerced, and when I realised she'd done it because she was angry, my opinion changed of her a little bit and I was a little bit like "okay she betrayed you but you're not even angry at her, you just instantly forgive her?" that was the only bit that seemed a bit suspect to me but then it's all got to be wrapped up in one book and so we can't have ages faffing I suppose! 

The Almost King is vividly created, richly brought to life, imaginative, atmospheric and cinematic. The world is extensive, with visible differences in each country that I loved noting as I read. The politics of this new country where complex, it had an atmosphere to it that seeped over you. The plot was soaring and intricate and had a lot going on, all of which was perfectly wrapped up by the end without rushing things. The threads of the plot were combined in to one web, with subtle links to the first book and a subtle romance to make you squeal. The characters where relatable, colourful and lively, brought to life right before your eyes. The tone of this book is different to the first book, and this one is even better than the first! I can't wait to see where the series is going next. It gets better and better and stronger and stronger. 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Church Of Marvels

Church of Marvels
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of Bookbridgr

New York, 1895. It's late on a warm city night when Sylvan Threadgill, a young night soiler who cleans out the privies behind the tenement houses, pulls a terrible secret out from the filthy hollows: an abandoned newborn baby. An orphan himself, Sylvan was raised by a kindly Italian family and can't bring himself to leave the baby in the slop. He tucks her into his chest, resolving to find out where she belongs.

Odile Church is the girl-on-the-wheel, a second-fiddle act in a show that has long since lost its magic. Odile and her sister Belle were raised in the curtained halls of their mother's spectacular Coney Island sideshow: The Church of Marvels. Belle was always the star-the sword swallower-light, nimble, a true human marvel. But now the sideshow has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in the ashes, and Belle has escaped to the city.

Alphie wakes up groggy and confused in Blackwell's Lunatic Asylum. The last thing she remembers is a dark stain on the floor, her mother-in-law screaming. She had once walked the streets as an escort and a penny-Rembrandt, cleaning up men after their drunken brawls. Now she is married; a lady in a reputable home. She is sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her husband's vile mother. But then a young woman is committed alongside her, and when she coughs up a pair of scissors from the depths of her agile throat, Alphie knows she harbors a dangerous secret that will alter the course of both of their lives...

On a single night, these strangers' lives will become irrevocably entwined, as secrets come to light and outsiders struggle for acceptance. From the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular sideshow to a desolate asylum, Leslie Parry makes turn-of-the-century New York feel alive, vivid, and magical in this luminous debut. In prose as magnetic and lucid as it is detailed, she offers a richly atmospheric vision of the past marked by astonishing feats of narrative that will leave you breathless.

I love reading books, were you're reading about different individuals, and as you read, you slowly learn how they're all connected, and you watch them all come together and it's totally genius. I was intrigued from the beginning trying to work out who was connected to who or who was going to be connected to who, I was so excited to see how it was all going to come together. But it wasn't just this anticipation that kept me reading, it was the characters, their lives and the writing. 

The writing gripped me from the first page, it created pictures of the places and characters, created an atmosphere and brought the characters to life. The characters were so very well created. They are each desperate and alone, and we get flashbacks of their pasts which helps to bring them to life and give us an understanding of them as well as adding intrigue and learning who they really are in regards to the story. Although I had my suspicions about Orchard. The characters have plenty secrets that add mystery and that you try to guess but you don't find out these secrets until right at the end and you're kind of left open mouthed and "omg". There are so many threads throughout the book that all converge eventually and it's so brilliantly done with little things that you wonder the relevance of and then when it's revealed and it all becomes clear your mind is totally blown. 

Each setting is so richly created that you get a real feel for each setting and the time period. The Asylum for instance, was creepy, and unpleasant and kind of made me shudder and made my skin crawl thinking about it when I wasn't reading about it, and you got such a horrible atmosphere and vibe from it that it wasn't pleasant. Each different setting had a different vibe to it and each made you feel something. 

While you may get confused at all the threads, as brilliantly done as they are I know I did, it's worth it in the end when everything comes together. The book is darkly atmospheric, it's not all glitz and glamour New York, it's the seedy side of New York that you don't see in TV shows and movies usually. The characters are interesting and dimensional. The writing is gripping and compelling. But most importantly....this book has carnies, you know, sword swallowing and so on so you are pretty much powerless to resist it. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Wishing For Wednesday #44

I would say I've got some gems for you this week, but I always say that and it's always true!
First up is the sequel to a debut that I loved a ridiculous amount when I got to review it last summer, and I'm so excited for the sequel, I've been waiting so impatiently!
Second up is a new book by one of my favourite authors, I pretty much love everything she writes so of course it made my TBR anyway, but if that doesn't seal the deal for you, it's described as Pretty Little Liars meets Heist Society!

The Hunter's Kind

Krish once believed himself but a humble goatherd, but now knows he's the son of the king of Ashanesland - and the moon god reborn, as foretold. Now, with his allies Dae Hyo and the mage Olufemi by his side, Krish has begun to sieze control of Ashanesland... and receive the worship he is due.
But Kirsh has many enemies, including Sang Ki, the bastard lord, who has discovered the key to Krish's overthow in the distant Moon Forest. There lives a girl named Cwen, a disciple of the god known only as the Hunter. And she has made it her life's mission to seek out Krish and destroy him.
If Krish has any hope of defeating his enemies, he must travel to the forbidden Mirror Town and unlock the secrets of its powerful magic. And the price of his victory may be much greater than the consequences of his defeat.

The Hunter's Kind is out July 2nd, pre-order your copy....here!
Add it to your TBR.....here!

The Fixer

When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy's. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

The Fixer is out July 7th, pre-order your copy....here!
Add it to your TBR.....here!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Stars Never Rise

The Stars Never Rise
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: BUY IT NOW
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her. But not everything is as it seems, not only in her town, but with Finn. 

OH MY GOD MY LIFE HAS BEEN RUINED BY ANOTHER BOOK! Seriously. Like not even being over dramatic, this is the start of yet another fantastic series, that I'm going to be totally obsessed with, and you all know how bad I am at waiting for the next book in a series, and this is going to be one of those series were I'm desperate for the next book, and counting down the days, and posting that GIF from Titanic everywhere whenever the next books get near to release and so on. It's THAT kind of book and worst of all, it had SUCH an ending, like a cliffhangery one, everyone was heading in to danger and it was like omg you can't just reveal the reveal like that and then leave me hanging?! And I have this horrid suspicion about Finn and what's going to happen in his future and it involves Mellie and her predicament and I'm really hoping I'm wrong and that it's just me expecting the worst because I'm on edge because of the Game of Thrones finale tonight, and all I have to say, Rachel Vincent, is if you're thinking what I am thinking....DON'T DO THE THING I BEG OF YOU DON'T DO THE THING. 

Right. Now that's out of my system, lets get this review done properly! So. I LOVED the Soul Screamers series, I didn't stumble across them until the series had finished back in 2013, and I was able to buy them all in a set, and I had a really jacked up sleeping pattern at the time so I was practically nocturnal, and anyway, I read one book each night and got them done in literally a week. Anyway, I totally loved them and couldn't get enough of them and as soon as I'd finished I wanted to start reading, the series was everything you want in a good series, there was action, romance, humour, and it was totally surprising. Like I didn't see half the plot twists coming, particularly in the romance aspect, and so once I was finished I was sad because it was over. 

Then, not long after, I stumbled across GoodReads with a brand new book page for a new book by the author, and I've been SO excited for this book and the wait has seemed like it's been *insert Titanic GIF here*, so yeah, it's been a long and painful wait for me. I know I shouldn't have expectations, but because I loved Soul Screamers and I love the author, I had pretty high expectations for this book, as well as abnormal levels of excitement every time something new came out about it. I was not at all disappointed. The Stars Never Rise met my expectations, and them smashed them in to dust. I haven't altered the synopsis, because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, or take away the surprise element. 

From the very first page, I was sucked in to this world that was original, and kind of scarily realistic. I don't know quite what it was, but I could picture this world and the Church so clearly, perhaps because I would imagine things are kind of like that in certain areas of the US, not like...that extreme, but you know with the small town and the very religious people and so on. I'm kind of wondering if that was were the author got the idea! 

Anyway, the world was very well created, like I said, it was frighteningly realistic, and then with the demons and the degenerates, it was all very different, and to my mind, it's unique. I mean there are a lot of demon books, these ones had a feel of Supernatural to them, but I still feel like we have more to learn about them. The world is built from the first page, and as you carry on reading it gets built up more and more, and you find yourself totally lost in this little town, that's startlingly vivid. I was absorbed in the world of the book, and to me, that's one of the big things a book has to do or get me to do, in order for it to make my list of favourites. As well as having huge doses of originality which this book does. 

The book had spades of originality with it's world, and the Church, and the demons and the degenerates and the exorcists and then the whole Finn thing, which has me so very curious and also fills me with a bit of dread at the possibilities for what could happen to his character. Either way, I was fascinated by the world and couldn't turn the pages fast enough, I was lost to the book, lost track of time, and nothing could distract me. It's rare for me to try and juggle eating dinner while reading a book, but I did it for the first time in pretty much years, I think, for this one because I couldn't put it down, and then it was Kindle, which is easier to hold than a book while you eat, and to be honest, it wouldn't have taken much persuading anyway for me to carry on reading. The book pretty much enchanted me. 

The book has such a rich background to it's world and a rich history, and it was such an intriguing one, with bits and pieces of it sprinkled throughout the narrative, getting you more and more intrigued and wanting to know more about what happened to create the current world, not to mention wanting to know more about the actual world in its current state. We see one small area of the world, and in the next book it looks like we're going to see more and I'm really excited to see what the rest of the world looks like. What's so bad about the badlands? I mean, it's hinted at, and things are hinted at, but I want to actually SEE it! 

That's another thing, as you're reading, there's a very clear plot. Nina has to deal with Finn and co and the changes in herself, and get back her sister. It sounds simple, but there's so many twists and turns to the plot, it's hard to predict what's going to happen next so I was all fine with sitting back and enjoying the ride, being either shocked or delighted with the new developments. Now there's a couple of huge reveals, one involving Finn and one that I'm not even going to hint at, these two huge reveals not only surprised you and gave you plenty of intrigue, but they perfectly set up the next book without taking away from the plot of the first book. The second book was set up subtly and like an afterthought, but at the same time, you finish reading this, read the very last page and you're like, "YOU CAN'T END THERE!?" and so then you're having to deal with a book hangover and coming to terms with the inevitable wait for the next book. The world, the politics, the characters and the plots twists and turns all combine to make the plot fairly complex, but subtly so. Not "Damn I need to sit and think and concentrate, and write notes as I read to keep up" complex, but "deceptively simple until I smack you with my bomb drop and suddenly everything has changed and nothing is as you thought it was and now everything is intricately complex" complex. If that makes sense. 

The Stars Never Rise is very well written, it's easy to read, the prose flows smoothly and is paced perfectly. Little bits of info about the world and how things work are sprinkled throughout, and any larger passages with information are written concisely while giving maximum knowledge, and smoothly slotted in to the narrative. The world building is crafted subtly, the world becoming more and more real as you read. There's plenty of action, edge of the seat tension and suspense creating such a strong atmosphere it oozes off the page and engulfs you as you read, so you'll be reading a fight scene maybe, or one of the other tense scenes, and your heart will be racing and you'll be trying to read a lot faster than you actually can. This book is also quite dark, the darkness kind of oozes over the world and the plot, in the form of the, shall we say, punishments for broken rules and so on, among other things. There were a couple of grisly scenes that were so atmospheric you felt like you were there.  There's some humour and there's plenty of intrigue that will carry on in to the next books. 

There is romance, and I felt like, under the circumstances which were most unusual, it developed fairly naturally and I can't really say it's subtle, because Finn and his lack of filter, but at the same time, at times it was very subtle, it was just there and it belonged there. It's not really insta love, it's more like insta attraction, I don't usually like insta anything when it involves romance, BUT, (I have no idea how to word this so bear with me) it was written so very well, that like I said...it just fit. It seemed completely natural that it would happen, and it belonged there. There are, however, complications, very interesting complications that I have no idea what's going to happen with them. I literally cannot tell/see how they're going to pan out, I mean, I have a foreboding thought, but I'm usually wrong, so I have no idea how it's going to play out. So, you have this cute, warm and fuzzies romance thing going on, they clearly like each other, and at the end of the book....it's not all rainbows and unicorns and happily ever afters, because you know, there's more books, but also, there's a fairly huge obstacle to overcome. I'm SO excited to see how this pans out, seriously. The romance in Soul Screamers was so well done, and then everything flipped and I remember sat there with my mouth hanging open and my brain screaming "oh my god" at me, and I'm so excited because whatever the author does regarding these....complications, it's going to be big and surprising and totally  unpredictable! I have seriously never come across a romance like the one in this book. Ever. 

Now the last thing I need to talk/ramble about, is the characters. I LOVED the characters. Except for Devi, I kind of think she's a cow, but then I'm assuming there's a reason for it and maybe I'll grow to like her as more of her past comes out, and to be honest, she was kind of adding the humour at certain points and I found myself snorting so maybe I don't dislike her all that much. Each character is so well written because they all have a backstory that has contributed to shaping them and how they came to be part of this group, and the backstories for each character adds another dimension to them, making them believable and realistic, and making them pretty much step out the book. I'm so curious to know more about each of the gang and their past. 

Vincent has written another female lead that I managed to connect with near enough instantly and from that point on, I was in Nina's corner the entire book, rooting for her, watching proudly as her character developed and became kind of badass. Nina, to me, was such a mix of things, she was strong, she was brave, and she had a vulnerable moment or two I think, and she becomes so badass, she has so many dimensions, I really loved her character! You have to admire someone who's THAT good to her sister, I mean...I don't want to give anything away, but I think Nina, had the best reaction you could expect in this particular world, she was so supportive of her sister. I've also got plenty of admiration for her and the things she did so she and her sister could survive. I can't get over how much I came to love this character more and more as I was reading. I kind of felt like Mellie took her for granted a bit to be honest! 

Finn is another character I was delighted with, clearly there is something going on here, and I want to know what it is. I also want to know what's going to happen to him like....now! I want to know more about him and his past and what he is, exactly. Now as much as I love all the YA male love interests, Finn was refreshingly different. He literally has no verbal filter and it was completely brilliant, rather than him being all moody/broody/etc. I need more Finn! 

I also loved Grayson and Reese and I feel like there's more to learn about them, as well as Annabelle who we didn't really see much of, but I'm kind of suspicious of her because various other books/tv shows have made me quite distrusting of characters like her haha! There really is a whole cast of interesting characters that I have a desperate need to know more about! They, along with the world created, made it incredibly hard to leave the book at the final page. I did't want it to end! 

The Stars Never Rise is an original take on demons and religious fanaticism. The world was absorbing, harsh, dark and rich. The book was again, rich, dark, entertaining, atmospheric, gritty and completely absorbing, with characters with wildly different personalities, and intriguing backgrounds. The Stars Never Rise not only has humour, and action, but it has an atmosphere that slinks off the page and wraps you up so you feel it like a physical thing. The Stars Never Rise is full of twists and turns you don't see coming, and at times it has you on the edge of your seat. The Stars Never Rise is a fantastically strong start to yet another fantastic series from Rachel Vincent and I don't know how I'm going to cope in the wait for the next book!

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