Friday, 25 November 2016

Review: Of Sand And Malice Made

Of Sand and Malice Made 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Çeda is the youngest pit fighter in the history of the great desert city of Sharakhai. In this brilliant new story, a prequel to Twelve Kings, she has already made her name in the arena as the fearsome, undefeated White Wolf. None but her closest friends and allies know her true identity.

But this all changes when she crosses the path of Rümayesh, one of the sadistic creatures known as ehrekh which were forged long ago by the god of chaos. They are usually desert dwellers, but this one lurks in the dark corners of Sharakhai, toying with and preying on humans. As Rümayesh works to unmask the White Wolf and claim Çeda for her own, Çeda's struggle becomes a battle for her friends, her life, and her very soul.  

When I read Twelve Kings, I completely enjoyed it for a multitude of different reasons! It was so good you guys! I've been so excited to read this and get to see more of Çeda's life before Twelve Kings. I loved getting to dive back in to the world of the book, it all came flooding back as I started to read! I think I'll have to recommend that you guys read Twelve Kings before reading this, because Twelve Kings has all the world building that you need! I don't want you guys to read this and be confused about things because you don't know what this or that is, it'll take away from the book! I mean, I spotted a few things that needed more explanation, but then at the same time, you could read this before and then get all excited to find out what it actually you could read it either way. Look at that, I just talked myself in a circle! 

One of the things I loved about Twelve Kings was it's intricate and rich background history and legends and myths, so I obviously loved getting to see one of the legends/myths of the world up close and personal in this book!  I previously loved Çeda's determination, intelligence and her skills, so I loved getting to see an earlier version of her than was in Twelve Kings. Getting to see her train and fight. I so badly wanted to see more of her and my prayers where answered! 

This may only be like 200 pages, but it's still richly imagined, well written, fast paced and has lots of mythology. It provides an insight in to a younger and earlier Çeda, and you get to see Emre too! There's also appearances from a couple of other familiar faces throughout the novella, and I loved getting to see them again, because I enjoyed the characters so much that I wanted to see more of them! 

Of Sand and Malice Made is a brilliant addition to The Song of the Shattered Sands series, it adds another layer to world and characters, and lets you get to know some of the characters even more, so you can see how much they've developed and changed when you read Twelve Kings. There's stunning ilustrations, a fast pace, and a brilliantly rich story that draws you in and keeps your attention, while the twists keep you on your toes! 


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Review: Star Wars Catalyst

Star Wars Catalyst 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Lauded Star Wars author James Luceno returns to pen an intense tale of ambition and betrayal that sets the stage for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine's top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic's, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key. Galen's energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic's debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor's tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic's web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself. 

I'm sure I'm not the only person who's ridiculously excited for Rogue One!? I have a friend who worked on it, doing something techy with editing, and I was so insanely jealous because hello getting to watch the raw footage! Who among us wouldn't sell a spare internal organ to get to work on Star Wars? I love the original Star Wars trilogy, the prequel trilogy not so much. Sometimes I pretend it doesn't exist, I might try re-watching them another day, but the originals are my ultimate favourites! I loved Episode Seven, probably because it was quite similar to A New Hope! I've been so curious about Rogue One, it's set before A New Hope, and all the trailers look so damn good, and this book has made me even more excited for it! 

I love how all of these books fill in gaps in the Star Wars universe and give you more in depth looks at the films, and this one sets up Rogue One for us nicely. It introduces us to Jyn, gives us her backstory, her parents story, gives us the political climate, what's been going on, and if you've seen the trailer......the scene with Young Jyn in the field type place, with her dad...that now makes so much sense. I'm 99% sure I know what that's all about now! This won't spoil the film for you, and you don't need to read it before you see it, but if you do read it, I think it'll flesh out the film more and give you a better understanding of everything, you get a better feel for the characters and the events! 

Catalyst is hugely character driven, the book focuses on Galen Erso and his family, as well as Galen's relationship with Krennic. Who I totally hated. So much. You read about Galen and how stoked he is about his work but you also have Krennic's POV so you know what he's up to and what's really going and I really loved that effect. I think my favourite characters was Lyra however, and I'm not at all worried about her lack of presence in the Rogue One trailer, (someone tell me she's there and I missed her!). I loved how she was questioning Krennic, I loved how well she and Galen worked together, I loved how they complemented each other personality wise. 

I liked that we got to see how Galen came to be working for the "bad guys" as it where. I liked seeing how you could end up working for the wrong side, thinking you where doing the right thing, and I enjoyed watching Galen's thought process on it but I also love how he immediately believed Lyra and heard her out. I'm so intrigued to see what Jyn will be like, right at the end we get her POV and it's made me so excited to see what she's like. I've got kind of an idea of what she may be like, but yeah! I'm loving getting excited for Rogue One and going in to it with this additional information! 

Classics: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Invited to an extravagantly lavish party in a Long Island mansion, Nick Carraway, a young bachelor who has just settled in the neighbouring cottage, is intrigued by the mysterious host, Jay Gatsby, a flamboyant but reserved self-made man with murky business interests and a shadowy past. As the two men strike up an unlikely friendship, details of Gatsby’s impossible love for a married woman emerge, until events spiral into tragedy.'ve heard mixed things about this classic, but I wanted to read it myself to form my own opinion, and upon finishing it...I'm just not sure how I feel. I enjoyed aspects of it, but there where other parts I didn't really like so much. 

I liked the look in to the time period that GG provided, The Diviners is one of my favourite books so I'm always intrigued to learn more about the period, and I enjoyed getting this view of it. I liked that the language and writing style made it easy to read. I liked Nick as our narrator, he provided an interesting view point of the whole Daisy/Gatsby thing that was going on, and I felt for him when he was trying to sort things at the end for Gatsby. I felt for Gatsby himself and I was gutted at what happens to him. I enjoyed the writing, the setting, and most of the characters, really I did. 

But...and there is a but, while I did get drawn in here and there, there where parts that didn't keep my attention. I'm sure I'm not the only person who didn't like Tom as a character, but I might be in a minority when I say I didn't like Daisy that much. I just didn't like her. She was so blah. And I don't get why everyone is so obsessed with Gatsby and Daisy and why they ship them so much. From my understanding of the novel, she married someone else because he was rich and Gatsby was not. Then she had her thing with Gatsby. Then she hit someone with a car in a kind of confusing scene, and then went back off with her husband leaving Gatsby to be set up by Tom for the blame. She didn't choose him nor did she even come to his funeral. Like I'm sure there's some huge in depth meaning to it all that I just didn't get, because sometimes I'm really thick when it comes to classics. But yeah. 

The edition itself was lovely, there weren't many notes needed as this is a short book, but I found the information on Gatsby and his wife fascinating! And also incredibly depressing/tragic at points. I love learning about the authors and the context to their novels from the time period they where writing in! 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Review: Red Sun & Kalifus Rising

The Red Sun
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the author! 

After meeting a strange dwarf in his garage and finding out his substitute English teacher is a witch, twelve-year-old Sam Baron travels through a stonefire to the magical realm of Orkney where he finally learns the truth about his past: his mother is a witch and his father is a descendant of the Norse god, Odin.

"The Red Sun" is the first book in The Legends of Orkney, the spellbinding series of adventure fantasy novels by Alane Adams. It follows Sam to the realm of Orkney where witches, wraiths, and other menacing creatures cause serious peril to the unsuspecting Sam. Now, it's up to him to save his friends and all of Orkney from a cursed red sun. Can a young witch girl named Mavery help him?

Drawing on Norse mythology, this fantastical story will enthrall middle grade and tween readers with a taste for adventure. As Sam grapples with dark and dangerous elements from his past and confronts his own simmering anger over long ago events, "The Red Sun" sears with wild imagination and breathtaking moments. Follow "The Red Sun" for the high-flying magical ride of your life. 

Okay, you all know I'm a huge Norse Mythology nerd, so it shouldn't surprise any of you that I read this! The covers are gorgeous, there's a tonne of Norse Mythology and it has SUCH Percy Jackson vibes! 

The opening of this intrigued me, the story was fast paced and there was plenty of action and humour throughout the book! I enjoyed the world building, I thought it was vivid and imaginative, I really did get huge PJ vibes when I was reading, so I think fans of him will love this book. I felt for Sam, he's constantly having to choose between two sides of his family, and he's been thrown in to this situation and none of it's really his fault and he's not having the best time! I rooted for him, and I loved his group of friends, Keely, Howie, Leo and Mavery. All of them banded together to help him and I was so intrigued by all of them. This book was a lot of fun, and a quick read! 

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the author! 

Sam Baron just freed Orkney from the ravages of the Red Sun—but now, imprisoned by Catriona, leader of the Volgrim Witches, Sam finds the darker side of his half-god, half-witch heritage released, and he fears he might destroy what he saved. Unable to resist the witches' enchantments, Sam has become their most potent weapon, and is leading an army of monstrous men against Skara Brae. 

Sam’s only hope for salvation lies with his three best friends and a mystical artifact known as the Moon Pearl. Keely travels north in search of the pearl, while Howie prepares for the gathering onslaught. Leo seeks a powerful artifact in the underworld, and faces an ancient evil that could be an even greater threat than Catriona and her cronies.

As Sam's friends rush to save him, other forces are at work in Orkney's shadows—forces that could help free Sam, or condemn him to the darkness forever. 

I eagerly started this straight after finishing Red Sun because I was curious to see what was going to happen to Sam next, and I actually think I loved this book even more! Red Sun was good, but Kalifus Rising is even better! 

We get to see more of the world of the book, and it's even more imaginative and vivid, there's still loads of Norse Mythology, Loki pops up which I'm excited about! The start to this book with the flashback grabs your attention, and when we rejoin Sam it's been a couple of months since the end of Red Sun. There's loads more action in this book, it's action packed from the beginning, there's lots of character development. 

Sam has an interesting struggle again in this book, and I enjoyed seeing the darker side to him. We get to see more of other characters like Teren and Gael, and there's new characters Jey, Galatin and more that I'm excited to see more of in the next books! What I really loved about this book was not only seeing more imaginative corners of the world, but getting to see more Sam's friends. We get to see way more of them, they each have their own mission/quest and it allowed you to get to know them more, and you got to watch them grown and change. I think Howie's was particularly interesting because he goes from being his kind of not really heroic character who has no idea how to fight, to the hero who's swinging a sword around and summoning undead armies. But he still retains his sense of humour. I feel like Keely came in to her own as well and Leo  has the potential to be even more interesting in the next book after the events of this book! 

The ending for Kalifus Rising leaves you wanting more and I'm really enjoying this series, and the mythology woven throughout it. It's fun, it's got a lot of imagination to it and it's a nice quick read for me! 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Review: Conjuror

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

Sixteen-year-old twins Matt and Em Calder are Animare: they can bring art to life, and travel in time through paintings. They work for Orion—the Animare MI5—protecting the secrecy of their order and investigating crimes committed by their own kind. It's dangerous work. But when they are sent to Edinburgh to find a teenage boy who can alter reality with his music, they are drawn into something more dangerous still. For this boy, Remy, is the Conjurer's Son. And he carries something that could change humanity forever. 

Okay, first things first, I didn't realise that this is like a spin off from Hollow Earth. I went in to this without having read that trilogy and I did perfectly fine. Once I started to read about Em and Matt it became apparent that okay maybe Hollow Earth is about them and the events that are mentioned, but it wasn't like I couldn't read this without having read them. I still understood everything, I wasn't confused, and I still enjoyed the book. I do think I'll be going back to read Hollow Earth at some point though because now I'm super curious! 

ANYWAY! I saw John talking about this on the TV and I was instantly curious about it because it sounded so original and like it was so much fun, and I wasn't wrong! The opening of the book is spine tingling, and from that point on I was hooked. The book was so intriguing and so different and so much fun. The book was vivid, and it was fast paced with plenty of action and adventure to keep you going! The ending of this book, perfectly sets up the next book and I am SO ready for it! I have so many questions that need to be answered, plus Matt and Caravaggio crack me up! 

Character wise, I loved all of our main characters. Remy so determined in his goals, but still able to accept help from others, he has so much courage and I loved reading about him! Matt and Em I also really loved, I loved their telepathy, I loved their loyalty to each other and how they supported each other and their banter made me chuckle! There's plenty of suspense and tension and danger and there's some brilliant snark to add a lightness to it and make you snort and cackle! 

OH I have to mention a line, I'm reading the book and then it's like "Time is much more wibbly wobbly thank you think"....well played Barrowman, well played! My brain immediately went to that scene and I definitely smiled at that! I got such a Dr. Who feel to the book too, like the good Dr. Who so the Eccleston/Tennant era, so I loved that little word play that was close to that particular line! 

I'm not going to lie to you guys, the entire time I was reading I was like "Damn I want that power" whenever Matt used his. Don't get me wrong, Remy's power is totally cool, and there's so much power in music as it is, but I'm not musically inclined, and history nerd that I am...Matt's power spoke to me. I need it. I want it. He gets to see in to the past and I WANT THAT POWER! So cool! 

Conjuror is a great diverse, easy read, full of action, adventure and mystery. There's tension and suspense. Danger...but there's also laughter and humour to offset it. There's so much originality to this book, and I loved the relationship between Em and Matt, and Remys relationship with the two of them. They worked so well together! I'm so stoked for the next book, because I'm low key shipping Matt and Caravaggio, I'm not going to lie, and I want to see more of the Moor! This is shaping up to be a brilliant new series! 

Review: Poisoned Blade

Poisoned Blade
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher. 

Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes's only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes's traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country's enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal's life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion...She must become a warrior. 

I really liked Court of Fives, it was original and intriguing, but this didn't do it for me. I'm still intrigued to see how it's all going to end after the ending of this book, but for this book...I don't know what it was. It was a combination of things, I guess, but for most of this book I wasn't enjoying it and characters where irritating me, and then towards the end for the last part of the book...that was the only part I was like okay this is cool....but then it ended. Like I said, I'm intrigued to see how it all ends but I'm not entirely sure about the next book in general based on this. 

Poisoned Blade picks up right where Court of Fives ends, and I was loving it...until I found my attention wandering and I started to skim passages. Mostly descriptions of Jes running the Fives, and some of the fight scenes, and some other scenes, I just had to skim read. I can't decide if I wasn't in the mood, or what, but I just wasn't feeling it there not too far in to the book. Don't get me wrong, there where some good plot twists, but I feel like there was so much thrown in to this book that it was hard to keep track of things at points, I mean...the book was fast paced, which is usually a good thing but I felt like there where parts that could have been expanded on, and other parts that shouldn't have been. There where so many plot lines, this could have been a couple of books, rather than just the one and it might have worked better. I feel like there's too much that's been tried to be crammed in to this book so it's a lot of different plot points that aren't expanded on enough. 

Jes bugged me a lot this book, like you know when a character is doing something stupid, that will screw everything for them but they do it anyway? That's Jes. It took me a bit to warm up to her in the first book, but then I started rooting for her so hard, I didn't have that in this book. I wasn't rooting for her as much as I was in the first book. I felt like she kept making stupid choices, and blundering about, and it was all so high stakes but Jes always came out alright no matter how stupid she was. It's kind of hard to see how she gets everyone to go along with all her plans when she keeps making idiotic choices to be honest. She just annoyed me, because it was so ridiculous. No matter how dangerous the situation, or how many times she should have died by rights...she always managed to survive and that and her "cunning" plans are so at odds with all the stupid decisions she makes and said blundering about. She keeps going on about keeping her mother safe but endangers her a load of times and I started to roll my eyes a little bit every time she made the stupid choices. 

On the plus. I liked Amaya a lot more this book. Sure she was still a selfish idiot at points, but I really came to like her in this book, you could see how good she was at blending in and gathering information. She had uses and skills to an extent, I actually really liked the camaraderie she and Jes had going on. I wanted to see more of Bett and I sincerely regret that now. I actually disliked her more than I ever disliked Amaya in the first book. She was so condescending to her sisters and all up on her high horse. She was a total cow and I can't even with her plot twist. I didn't see that one coming at all and it definitely grabbed my attention. 

Temnos was potentially very interesting and I thought he was being set up for something but then that was cut short and I feel like that could have turned out better. I kinda think he was only killed to try to get you to gasp and be all "Oh no" and to add some blood and brutality to the end situation. Kal is kind of a douche but then he gets is balls back and punches someone in the face and it's awesome, I've liked his character development in this book. My opinion of him changed so much over the previous book and I was glad to see him develop some more and come in to his own. Menoe still bugs me too and unfortunately it looks like she'll be lurking around being irritating more in the next book. 

OH and I'm 99% sure we're being set up with a love triangle between Jes, Kal and Ro. I'm so not here for that, I don't get the whole Ro/Jes thing and then Amaya made that comment and I stared at the page for ages like...really? Did I miss that or? Because they're not together all that much and it seemed kind of random. If a love triangle is done well, then fair play. But this is kind of shoved in to book two, and I'm not sure how many books we're getting but having a love triangle shoved in to the third book is just thank you. All the best love triangles I've come across have been present from the beginning, and it's been so hard to pick a team because you love both pairings. That's not present in this book, like I said, I've hardly seen Ro and Jes interact and the whole thing just seemed so random to me. 

On the plus, another good thing about the book is that we got to see more of the world of the book, more of the politics, and more of the links between the past and the present and the Fives which intrigued me in the first book as there where many hints that there was more to it than it seemed! 

Overall, this book frustrated me so much. Don't get me wrong, books are supposed to make you feel things but I don't like reading a book and being this level of frustrated with a protag. It made it hard to enjoy the book, and a lot of it didn't interest me at all. There's so much thrown in to this book as well as a possible love triangle that I don't feel is necessary, and it just wasn't as enjoyable for me as the first book. After the exciting ending to the book, I am intrigued to see what happens in the end, but I'm not as excited for the third book after reading this. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Review: Swords and Scoundrels

Swords and Scoundrels 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Two siblings.
Outcasts for life.... together.
What could possibly go wrong?

Vocho and Kacha are champion duelists: a brother and sister known for the finest swordplay in the city of Reyes. Or at least they used to be-until they were thrown out of the Duelist's Guild.

As a last resort, they turn reluctant highwaymen. But when they pick the wrong carriage to rob, their simple plans to win back fame and fortune go south fast.

After barely besting three armed men and a powerful magician, Vocho and Kacha make off with an immense locked chest. But the contents will bring them much more than they've bargained for when they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot to return an angry king to power....

Okay you guys I'm going to be honest with you, the synopsis for this intrigued me so much but I was kinda side eying it a bit because of the title and cover. I wasn't too sure what to expect based on the two, but I kept coming back to the synopsis like...okay this sounds really awesome...and it was! I went in to the book excited to see what it was all about and to have some fun highwaymen hijinks! 

I was pulled in to the book from the beginning by the banter between Kacha and Vocho and the action and the atmosphere! I read this in one sitting because I couldn't find a good place to put it down! I loved the world of the book it was so original, there's clockwork guys and my brain then switched to Steampunk mode! Seriously, there's a Clockwork God, Clockers who have taken the place of Nobles, and the city is built on clockwork and the city changes as the cogs move and it was so awesome! The world of the book was vivid, and original and atmospheric, so I ended up getting pulled right in to the book! Plus there was a tonne of intrigue and mystery going on! 

There's a fairly intricate plot going on, with lots of different threads coming together both past and present. There's political unrest what with the whole, King wanting to be King again and needing to get the prelate out of the way thing, on top of all the intrigue and mystery! I got drawn in to what was going on, coming up with my own theories but mostly I was along for the ride and to see what happened next! There's plenty of action, and I loved reading all the fights, I got a Musketeers vibe from our little group as they fought their way through the book! I loved how some parts of the book where slightly dark but there was plenty of humour too! It was genuinely funny in parts, and I really loved Kacha and Vocho's banter with each other, it cracked me up more than once!

There's three different POVs, Vocho mostly, with Kacha and Petri thrown in to and I really loved this it gave some much needed insight in to each character, and what their motivation was. Petri in particular, it allowed you to get to know him and understand why he was acting the way he was. Plus it helped to add to the relationship between the two siblings, it showed their different sides of things. I really loved the interludes throughout the book, it was a great way to give us a look at Kacha and Vocho's past, how they grew up and so on, how they came to have the complex relationship they do. It also let us see Petri and Bakars past too and how things came to be where they where in the book in the present. It was all well woven together, and I think the changes in time where smooth and didn't upset the narrative. I loved getting the history and the backstory and the insight in to the characters in such an interesting way and it gave you some real OMG moments too! And then the multi POV's came in handy even more. 

I loved reading about the complex relationship Kacha and Vocho had. It's an integral part of the book, I don't have any siblings so I can't say if it was normal or not, but I found it fascinating. They where so protective and loyal of each other, and they both have ambitions and they're competitive to an extent. I loved how Kacha stuck by Vocho. I really liked Kacha, she was a badass, she fought hard to get where she is, she doesn't take any crap from anyone and she's so loyal to Vocho. The pressure she felt to be perfect for everyone was also very relatable. 

Vocho too is relatable, particularly his childhood with Kacha. I understood why he acted like he did, I've felt the same thing with another family member myself, the feelings like you're not good enough compared to that person. I got it and it made me feel for him. I understood why he acted like he did, even if sometimes I wanted to smack him upside the head because Kacha's his sister and she's so loyal to him! He kinda jumps in without thinking, there was such an air of mystery to him because at one point you're not sure what he's really like! Vocho is kind of a loveable idiot I think, and he's hilariously vain! But there's more to him than that. All the characters are complex, and I'm interested to learn more about them, as well as the world of the book, Dom and Petri just as much as Kacha and Vocho! 

Speaking of characters, there's plenty of other characters throughout the book that you come to either love or hate. On the hate front we have Licio, the Idiot King. Sabates, the Evil Magician, although he made a nice change from the usual "I'm magical and aloof because I'm magical" kinda bad guy. It was super cool and creepy how they used their magic! On the love side we have Cospel, poor suffering Cospel. Dom...oh Dom I want to know more about you. Dom isn't at all what he first appears, funny as he is in the beginning. I actually spent most of the book going "Come on Dom, mate, I really want to like you...don't screw it up now!". He didn't let me down in the end, in case you where wondering! Then there's Petri. I'm not sure how to feel about Petri. I kinda thought he was going to be the bad guy, but it was hard to dislike him because I got his motivations and related to it, and he seems to genuinely care about Kacha, he knew everything Vocho did and was protective of her. I'm not entirely sure if I ship them or not, because I'm still not entirely sure what went on with the note thing, because Petri seems genuinely confused about what he did and I don't think he's that much of an arse. Then there was the moment at the end! 

Swords and Scoundrels is a light fantasy, it's fun and has humour as well as it's dark moments. There's plenty of action and mystery, and a brilliant brother/sister duo and relationship to draw you in. The world is original and vivid, and that combined with the characters, action and plot will draw you in and keep you reading! I'm thinking I need to read the next two books in the trilogy ASAP to see what happens next, because it's far from over and the next book has been well set up! 


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Review: Recreated

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

Lily Young thought traveling across the globe with a reawakened sun prince was a grand adventure. Now she’s about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.

When Amon and Lily part tragically, he transports himself to the Netherworld—what mortals call hell. Tormented by the loss of his one true love, he’d rather suffer in agony during Lily’s mortal years than fulfill his duty to protect humanity.

Heartbroken, Lily seeks refuge on her grandmother’s farm. Yet she can feel Amon’s pain, and she has been having dreams—dreams of Amon continually suffering.

For before he departed, Amon gave Lily something very special, an item that connects them even though they are worlds apart. Now Lily must use this object to free him, and to free their realms from darkness and utter chaos. She will do whatever it takes.

I've been deliberating over this rating for a while. I completely loved the first book, I loved the mythology and the characters and the romance. I loved the originality to it with the twists on mummies and Egyptian mythology. Both books are clearly well researched and I just LOVE all the mythology. But this book was hard for me to rate because there where a couple of things I had an issue with. I wanted to give this 5 stars but I think I'll have to give it four instead. 

All the things I loved from the first book where present in this. The rich mythology, the originality, the memorable characters that are easy to relate to and have depth to them, and the fast pace and smooth writing. Plus the romance. I love the romance between Lily and Amon, and I love how it's still going strong in this book, and they're so cute with each other and so in love. Warm and fuzzies people, warm and fuzzies. We got to see more of Anubis, and meet more of the Gods and Goddesses, Horus, Amun-Ra, Osiris and so on. I loved getting to see more of them, after meeting Anubis in the first book it was something I really wanted to see and Houck delivered! Could have done without Horus's moves though. Hassan is back, and so are Asten and Ahmose another thing I wanted after the first book as I loved the brothers so much! We got to lean more about Asten and his past, and I really felt for him, and from the way things went I'm assuming next book we're going to get to learn a lot more about Ahmose. Kinda like a book for each brother! 

As well as the old, we got to meet new characters, Cherty, Tia, the Mother Tree, Ashleigh who I really liked! She cracked me up! Tia I liked and I loved her friendship with Lily and how they interacted. That said, towards the end, once I realised what she was up to...well...I understood why she was doing what she was doing, I got it. But at the same time, I love Lily so much and so I wasn't really down with what Tia was doing. Ashleigh too at points. I understood why, and I got their point of view but still. Anyway, we got plenty of new characters to love, and get to know! There's even two more ships, and I ship them, but at the same time it's very complicated, and more on that later! 

Recreated is all go from the beginning, I love the mix of mythology, action and romance. I loved getting the creation story of the Gods and the story of Seth from Amun-Ra, I also liked the little story at the end of the book! There's a really great Relic Hunter feel to the book in the beginning, or Indiana Jones, whichever you prefer. There's a quest like vibe to it, sort of, as they journey through the Netherworld, I also felt like it was kind of Alice in Wonderland-y. Journeying through the world, and all the strange things Lily came across. I loved getting to see the Netherworld and learn more about the mythology that inspired the book, I loved how vivid it was and how it sucked you in to the book. It was original and fun, and imaginative and I love Houck's world building. 

Now there where also bits I didn't like. Lily undergoes a transformation in this book, hence the title Recreated. Lily really struggles with what she is, and I'm interested in how it's all going to end although I have a feeling I'm 99% right with what I think is going to happen. My problem is with the other people in Lily's head. For most of the book Tia is in Lily's head and it's hard to tell who is in control. When everything with Asten happens, it confused me and I didn't really like it. I loved Lily and Ramon's relationship in the first book and I loved the beginning and then this whole thing came out of left field and I really didn't like it. Call me crazy but yeah. Then we have Ashleigh in Lily's head. The attitude of both just irritated me more than once, as Lily, at least in Ashleigh's case, didn't really agree to having Ashleigh in her head and Ashleigh was taking over left right and centre. Now. I like the new ships. I ship them. It's cute. But not at the expense of Lily and Amon's relationship, and I'm just not down with the whole cheating thing that's going on, even though I know it's not really cheating, if you know what I mean? I'm 99% sure that they're all going to get separated and it's going to be totally cute with each of the brothers being all happy and everything, but for now, I'm not digging the whole Lily having three people in her head and what's going on with it. It just bugs me. And when it happened with Ashleigh at the end I knew it was going to happen and I was like okay, really? 

I also found the "effects" of the Heart Scarab a bit....too much. Like the whole Horus thing. I didn't see it as being all that necessary to the story, it was just there for whatever reason and I found myself rolling my eyes a little at it. So this book has been hard for me to rate, because I really really loved the first book, but this one kinda went down in my estimations. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, and there where plot twists that I didn't see coming. But now I feel like I know exactly what's going to happen with this series, or at least a large part of what's going to happen, at least with the romance anyway. It just didn't sit well with me, and at points I was a little confused about what was happening, really. 


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Review: Romeo and/or Juliet

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

What if Romeo never met Juliet? What if Juliet got really buff instead of moping around the castle all day? What if they teamed up to take over Verona with robot suits? In this New York Times bestselling version of Romeo and Juliet, you get to choose where the story goes. Packed with exciting choices, fun puzzles, secret surprises, terrible puns and more than a billion possible storylines, Romeo and/or Juliet offers a new experience every time you read it. And, as an added bonus, all the different endings feature beautiful and quirky illustrations by some of the best artists working today, including New York Times bestsellers Kate Beaton, Noelle Stevenson, Randall Munroe, and Jon Klassen. Whatever your adventure, you're guaranteed to find lots of romance, epic fight scenes and plenty of questionable decision-making by highly emotional teens.

Okay guys, I have to give this book a quick review today because I used to LOVE those "Choose your own adventure" books when I was younger, before it became you know...weird to read them! Anyway, I got sent this in the post as a surprise and I opened the package and I was looking at it like...what is this? And I was just staring at it for a few seconds before I realised and then I was like OH MY GOD. THEN I started to flip through it real quick to check it was true and then I freaked out a little because you know Shakespeare but choose your own adventure all rolled in to one! 

So basically I freaked before I'd even read it properly. I have to say, I love the illustrations in this! They where scattered throughout and they looked so good! Romeo and/or Juliet is humorous and fun and very well created. The author slightly mocks the play that he clearly knows very, very well as is evident from his writing. You can literally have hours of fun with this as you choose different paths. You can choose to follow the play, or you can play around and go different routes and twist how things end up! There are so many options! Right from the beginning it made me chuckle because you could choose to play without spoilers, or be spoiled from the beginning! I also love how you can learn about the authors right from the beginning before choosing your character! 

I just had so much run reading through each section and then weighing my options and then repeating it all over again. It's a lot of fun and certainly makes Shakespeare way more fun than it usually is, sorry guys! I loved the twists and the unpredictability of the options and what was going to happen. Romeo and/or Juliet makes for one hell of a nostalgic read, I'm not going to lie! 

Review: Shadows on The Moon

Shadows on the Moon
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

A powerful tale of magic, love and revenge set in a fairy tale Japan. Suzume is a shadow weaver. Her illusions allow her to be anyone she wants - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? A heartbroken girl of noble birth? A drudge scraping by in a great house's kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, she is determined to capture the heart of a prince - and use his power to destroy those who murdered her family. Nothing will stop her. Not even love.

So unlike everyone else, I read Barefoot on the Wind before I read this, and I know a lot of other reviewers where making comparisons between the two but for me, I was doing it the other way around! This was obviously a lot longer than BOTW, but I loved the fairy tale like quality to Marriott's storytelling, and I think I might actually like this one more than BOTW! 

I love how this leans slightly towards the dark, and I loved the message of the book. Suzume is so determined in her revenge, and I loved how that was resolved and like I said..the message behind it! I felt like the book was very atmospheric and cinematic, the beginning drew me in. Sure it's based on Cinderella but it's kinda like a twisted Cinderella. Things have been changed and switched about in a really interesting way and the author has put her on unique stamp on it, so it's loosely based on Cinderella. I liked how the author dealt with self harm throughout the course of the book, I liked how complex the characters where, things weren't straight forward with the characters. There was action and romance, and overall this was such a brilliant read. It was easy to slip in to the world of the book, the same world that BOTW is set in, and it was easy to breeze through this in one sitting. 

I am going to say that I was straight up suspicious of Terayama from the beginning, and I knew exactly what he was up to and what he'd done. I had his measure from the beginning! I would love to say I was surprised about Suzume's mother's behaviour, especially at the end, but sadly I saw that coming too. I really felt for Suzume throughout the course of the book, she didn't have a great time, but she kept on going. Kept fighting, sure she was driven by revenge, but I had to admire her determination. I understood her need for vengeance. I felt for her, and I loved how you saw many different sides to her throughout the course of the book. 

Otieno I also really loved, he didn't give up on Suzume he was there for her and he was really sweet and adorable at times. I was rooting for him from the beginning and I shipped he and Suzume so hard! I also really liked some of the secondary characters, especially Akira, she wasn't what I was expecting and I loved her relationship with Suzume and how she helps her, and I loved the little story at the back of the book about her! 

Shadows on the Moon, is a brilliant, quick and imaginative read. Marriott creates such an evocative and vivid world that you can fall in to it and lose track of everything while you're reading. The characters are memorable and complex, you can root for them, you can understand their actions even if you don't agree with them. I loved the romance, it was so cute and it hits you in the feels, and I could read so many books set in this world! 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Review: The Midnight Queen

The Midnight Queen
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 
In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented – and highest born – sons of the kingdom are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover . . .
Gray’s Britain is a fragmented kingdom of many tongues, many gods and many magicks. But all that concerns Gray right now is returning as soon as possible to his studies and setting right the nightmare that has seen him disgraced and banished to his tutor’s home – without a trace of his powers. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.
Although she has no talent of her own and has been forbidden by her father to pursue it, Sophie Callender longs for a magickal education. But she started a bookish rebellion in her father’s library long ago, and her sheltered upbringing conceals a mysterious past and what may prove a catastrophic future. Her meeting with Gray sets off a series of events that will lead them to uncover a conspiracy at the heart of the kingdom and into the legend of the Midnight Queen, who vanished without a trace years before.
Okay, just from the synopsis this sounded awesome and I knew I was going to like it...but upon finishing it....I LOVED it! Genuinely. I kind of expected certain things when reading the synopsis, and I'm not going to elaborate on them further because then spoilers and it'll take away the surprise factor for all of you, BUT....I was completely surprised by this book. It was so much more than I expected, there was more to it, and it really wasn't at all what I expected. It threw my expectations out the window and jumped all over them and it was totally awesome! I'm currently having that feeling when you finish a really good book that you loved...and you're feeling all smiley and happy and don't really want to start another book...yep. Book hangover! There are so many things about this that I loved, I'm not sure how I'm going to do this without fangirling, I'll try to keep it short and sweet! 
As soon as I started to read, I fell in love with the writing style, and the narrative. It fit so well with the world of the book and the atmosphere, and it really got me in to the world of the book. The point of view switches between Gray and Sophie, but mostly Gray, and I loved how smoothly it switched and how it added depth to the two characters, and I feel like it really added to the story and helped you to get to know the characters and connect with both of them, as they're both such an integral part to the story! I will say that while the book starts off quite slowly, things are being set up and it's so worth sticking with it! I'm hoping you'll be intrigued enough to stick with the steady pace before it starts to really get going, but just in case....give it a chance because it really does get so good! 
ANYWAY, I loved the opening to the book, it intrigued me and it was atmospheric, and my interest was officially grabbed. Sure I was kinda hoping for some of it to be hurried on in the beginning but now upon finishing it, I'm glad we got the chance to get to know Sophie and Gray before everything happened and things where revealed! I really liked Gray, I liked watching him go from his stuttering, student self, to a more confident guy as the story progressed. Gray is genuinely intelligent, and I empathised with him going against what his family wanted him to do. Also bless him getting dragged in to everything in the beginning! I really liked that Gray saw Sophie as equal! Speaking of Sophie, I also completely loved her! I understood her frustration and empathised with her and her situation as well, and then her new circumstances after the big reveal. I loved how determined she was to learn despite everything, and I loved Gray for helping her. She has such a burning curiosity and she's such a kind and caring person. Sure she had her wobbles, but they where completely understandable considering her situation and I think we'd all have been in the same where we in her position! I loved both of them, honestly, I felt like they where both really refreshing and I loved reading about them! 
On the romance front, I loved watching them get to know each other, and watching the feelings develop and then having that whole thing where they completely love each other but don't know the other does and it was so cute. I feel like they're kind of perfect for each other, they make a great team. They appreciate each other, Gray doesn't treat Sophie like every other male. He helps her to learn Magick and he believes in her and trusts her and Sophie is the same. Gray's there for her, and he helps her when she has problems and ugh. So cute. I got my warm and fuzzies and I ship them so damn hard. 
Back to characters before I list all the reasons I love my ship! We had plenty of supporting characters that I hated, looking at you Callendar, Amelia and King as well as assorted others. Genuinely I wanted to punch the King so much. And Callendar. Ugh. But we also had plenty that I loved and hope to get to see more of in future books! Joanna, Sophie's younger sister, she was brave and daring and I loved her personality so much even if I wanted to throttle her at the end a little bit! I loved Jenny, Gray's sister and I wanted to know her more, and see more of her! She's the only member of his family that we get to see and I loved the relationship between the two! I wasn't too sure about her husband at first from what had been said about him, but I actually ended up really liking him! I really enjoyed the friendships between all the characters in the group, I loved the camaraderie and how they all worked together to solve the plot! And what a plot it was, it really kept me guessing! 
While the characters are totally fantastic, they aren't the only fantastic thing about the book. The plot for one, like I said, it kept me guessing and there where plenty of twists and turns. It had a steady pace and the momentum picked up more and more as the book went on. I was expecting one thing from the synopsis, but the book delivered another and it was SO damn good. I loved all the intricacies to the plot, and trying to figure things out and being wrong, it kept me on my toes! 
Alongside all of that, we have the world of the book. Damn. I love it. I want to fall in to this world and never come out. It's so damn vivid as you're reading. I'm not sure how to describe it! It seems kind of familiar in places, but it's also completely different. I thought we where modern day when I started reading, but then I realised we where not, and then I re-examined the map and saw a familiar map...but it was also different with new names and new countries! The writing style complements the world of the book, it felt very Victorian to me, or some point past Victorian, way in the past either way. And the language helped to bring the world to life and draw you in to it as you read. ANYWAY, everything's been changed around, it's kinda alternate but it's such a rich and vivid world. I definitely got Jane Austen vibes from the language and the world and...other things. 
I loved the way the magic system worked, I loved the different kinds of Magick, and reading about them and I want to know more. I also loved and want to know more about the religion of the world as there are a lot of different gods and goddesses and Priests of this and Priestesses of that, I need to know more! I'm also curious about the politics, as some dealings are mentioned! Genuinely, Hunter has created such a fantastically imaginative setting, and such a rich and extensive world that I want to know more and more about it, and I'm excited to read the other books and uncover more! 
The Midnight Queen is insanely original and imaginative, and it'll give you that feeling when you want to visit the world...see the sights....and it'll let you get completely lost in the book too! The characters, the language used in the writing, all of it help to draw you in to the world of the book and it's a damn intriguing one! The characters are well created and memorable and you want to know more about the secondary characters! Gray and Sophie are so relatable and such a breathe of fresh air, plus they're totally made for each other and the romance will give you the dose of the warm and fuzzies that are quite often required! I just completely loved this book, and how it was not at all what I was expecting, it was better! I'm sad to be back in the real world, I'm not going to lie to you! 
The Midnight Queen combines action, adventure, intrigue, mystery, magic and romance, but it also features a lot of other cool things. A secretive and dastardly plot, going right up to the higher ranks of society......a nice little flit across the country, with a cover story of course....which means...disguises! A masked ball....a touch of Austen....a group of many characters of varying reputation and occupation working together to unravel said dastardly plot....and much more!  I'm definitely going to be needing to read the other books! 

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Review: My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

I totally should have read this sooner, and I'm kicking myself for not doing so! I would have been out of my reading slump a lot faster! Despite reading the synopsis, I still wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I've not read anything by the authors individually, although I do have Jodi's book on my shelves! The synopsis intrigued me, and everyone was raving about the book when the ARCs where I couldn't resist reading it. I'm such a history nerd and I loved the idea of this! Once I started reading...I was blown away! Like I said...I wasn't sure what to expect but it wasn't this book! I couldn't put this down and I read it in one go, and I loved every page. There where so many things in this book that I love, and I'm kind of hoping the authors will make this a series, with like different historical events or something! 

My Lady Jane is genuinely hilarious, like laugh out loud funny! I was snorting, and cackling away as I was reading! There where so many pop culture references slotted in and I enjoyed spotting them and having a chuckle, although "we're going to need a bigger sword" made me snort like an actual pig, before keeling over sideways and laughing (quietly because people where asleep!). Also the dedication was A+! But back to the pop culture.....yeah. I don't want to spoil it so I won't list the ones I spotted, but I will say there's Monty Python and I wasn't expecting it and I stared at the page like "OMG I KNOW YOU!" and it was brilliant. 

I loved Jane, she was a bookworm so obviously I was like "HELL YES SISTER!" and connected to her immediately! She's smart, and courageous and she threw out wardrobes because she wanted bookshelves. SHE IS ALL OF US. She had all these book rules and I can't even. I loved her. I was rooting for her and cheering for her and I think the authors did a brilliant job of bringing her to life. I may be a history nerd, but I don't know too much about Jane Grey, and they've taken her, and given her a personality and brought her to life off the page! 

Edward....what can I say about Edward. He was sexist, and kind of a spoiled brat because of the fact he was handed the throne at such a young age and everyone pandered to him and so on. I'm sure you can imagine, and he's a product of his time really. I wasn't too sure on him at first, he did make me laugh, and I wanted to like him especially as we got his POV a lot and he met Gracie. I loved Edwards development over the course of the book, I started to think of him as a loveable idiot towards the end! 

Now, I just mentioned that we get Edwards POV, and obviously we get Jane's...but we also get a third! The third POV is Gifford. Or rather G as he prefers to be known! I wasn't too sure about G in the beginning, but once it became apparent what was really up with his late night dalliances, I was like okay dude...I like you. I can root for you. He was kind of adorable when he wanted to be too! I loved getting all three POVs, the changes where well done and it kept the book going at a good pace, and I loved the insight in to each of the characters. I think it helped make Edward in to a more likeable character, if you hadn't had his POV he might not have been as well liked! In the case of Jane and G, it helped to understand both characters and their motivations, and what was going on romance wise! 

Now that we've talked about our three main characters we need to talk about the supporting characters. Now Bess and Mary are well known, historical figures, and I loved how they where characterised in this book. Much like Jane, I didn't know much about Gifford, I knew that wasn't his real name, his real name was Guildford, and I didn't know much about Edward either! But I knew a lot about his sisters and I liked how Mary was exactly as I always imagined her to be, and I really didn't like her! Bess on the other hand I really did like, she was determined to help her brother and she was such a kind person. Unlike Bloody Mary. Mary Queen of Scots makes an appearance too and all I could picture was a mash up of the portrait of her I've seen and the version of her from Reign! I totally got where she was coming from though! 

There's plenty of characters in the book to get to know and like, or know and hate. G's dad anyone!? Totally not satisfied with his status as "Living" rather than "Head on pike". I cheered stupid amounts at Peter, and I loved Pet! Granny was hilarious too. Gracie...I loved Gracie! She was freaking brilliant, and badass and the perfect person to help Edward change his ways! I really loved Gracie's interactions with Edward, especially when she quotes Monty Python at him! I shipped them so badly, and I was like "Come on Edward GROW SOME BALLS!" This book made me sing "Kiss the Girl" in my head SO MANY times because of both my ships! 

I loved the romance in the book, Jane and G...I shipped them so damn hard. I completely loved watching their romance develop, and like I said, there was much mental singing going on! I wasn't sure what was going to happen with the romance because they had to get married without even seeing each other, and I wasn't sure in the beginning, but their banter about rules started the ship sailing...and then I was fully on board. I loved how they bonded, I loved how protective G was and his encounter with Edward on the hunt was HILARIOUS. It was adorable, it brought the warm and fuzzies and I just loved them together! 

I enjoyed the writing style, with the narrators occasionally dropping in to check in, and to drop some tidbits of information. I think it worked really with the story the writers where telling, and I loved it in combination with the three different narratives! I loved the plot. It followed history to an extent and then it went off the beaten path! I loved the originality to the book, and the twists that the authors gave historical events. I don't want to say too much because going in blind plot wise made it even better for me, but like, Mary and her "reign" and what she was doing to certain people and why...loved the twist! There where plot twists everywhere, knowing history I saw some of them coming, the history I knew was in the back of my mind the entire time, BUT I didn't see how they came about, or they had a twist to them that I didn't see coming! SO MANY PLOT TWISTS! 

My Lady Jane is a genuinely funny, brilliantly written book with characters that come to life, and that are memorable, both historical and otherwise! I couldn't stop reading, it was history, but it was funny and brilliantly twisted and I completely got wrapped up in the book and the world of the book. It's one of those books that you just fall in love as you read, and it's definitely a favourite of mine! Thanks to the romance, it'll be one that I think I'll keep re-reading whenever I need a pick me up or a laugh! I'm so hoping the authors are going to write more books, not necessarily about Jane but about other historical figures because I need MORE! 

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