Thursday, 22 March 2018

Review: The Belles

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

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever. need to read this book, it was freaking awesome! I wasn't entirely sure if it was a standalone or not but after the ending, there's no doubt and I'm excited for the next book...I need it like, yesterday! I also wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book but it actually blew me away.  

The Belles is intriguing from the start and I found the descriptions to me vivid and bright. The settings all sound very beautiful and colourful and bright...but there's a darkness seeping in along with the feeling that something isn't quite right at the palace and the tea house and so on. It's literally like looking at a colourful, beautiful exterior and then scratching it a little bit and seeing the dank, dark underbelly. There's little tidbits dropped throughout that have you thinking "hang on a minute..." and giving you a sense of foreboding as you try to work out what's going on. Literally nothing is as it seems, situations...characters, none of it. 

I have to say, I really loved our MC, Camille, she was imaginative, and bored of being told what to do. She questions things and makes her own decisions....she's inquisitive and I loved her for it. She see's something's wrong and she doesn't just ignore it and go about her day, she investigates. Bree I really loved, I was a bit wary of her at first but it became clear she's loyal to Camille and I liked the relationship between the two. Camille and her sister Belles had a brilliant dynamic and relationship amongst them, even if Amber was being a brat a few times and I wasn't sure I liked her...I eventually warmed to her. I'd have loved to have seen some more of the relationship between all of them, but I'm hoping in the next book we get to see more of Amber and Edel and get to know them more!

Remy....I ship he and Camille so bad and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to but I was all set to dislike the grumpy pants....and then I just ended up loving him. Bless him, he tried so hard to try and be friendlier and you got to know more about him and it's impossible not to end up liking him. Although he does give you pause towards the end! As for Auguste....he's charming. Which made me suspicious from the start. I wanted to trust him, I really did, but I couldn't quite bring myself to because I always felt there was something slightly off about him. 

This book was somewhat of a hard read for me, as someone who's struggled with their appearance since I was a teenager, and often wished for the things in this book, you know...being able to effortlessly change how you appear and so on. This book shows what's wrong with that. It makes you question it. It makes you see that it wouldn't be a good thing, it shows you what could go wrong and Camille herself just wants people to love themselves and that's what she wants to achieve with her gift, it was actually a really lovely message for the book, if not a hard one to accept. 

It genuinely did not take me long to get fully sucked in to this book, there are so many snakes throughout I was never sure who could be trusted, and there's a completely psychotic Princess. Sorry not sorry, but she genuinely is a psycho. I'd say I love to hate her, but really I just hate her, she's awful. There where so many fun, imaginative little details thrown in, I have to say, it really let my imagination run wild as I pictured the world. The pace was good anyway but towards the end it really picked up and then plot twists get thrown at you one after the other and one event triggers others until the book finishes with a bang. Like seriously....I'm gonna be needing more and I'm gonna be impatient while I wait. 

Manga: Graineliers 2

Graineliers Vol 2
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Luca and Abel have been rounded up to work on the construction of a government research facility, but it's actually a trap to identify carriers! The National Grainelier Special Education and Research Institute chair, Nicolas, has laced the water with an herbicide that's harmless to humans but disastrous to seed carriers. With suspicion hanging heavy over the young men, will Luca's secret be discovered? 

As we open the volume, Luca's secret is dangerously close to being discovered and while he's not fully outed, I guess you could say, he's still pretty much discovered. He and Abel are separated and Luca is heading towards Headquarters with Nicolas and his guard...until something goes wrong. 

There's a fun twist about Nicolas that's going to prove to be veeerrryyy interesting, considering what it implies and the other bits of information we get from some other sources throughout the volume. Things aren't entirely what they seem, and I'm excited to watch it play out and see what he can help Luca with. 

Hugues continues to be mysterious as the volume starts and he clearly knows more than he lets on. As the volume progresses, he turns in to one of the more interesting characters. He's a part of Insecte, the opposition to the Graineliers and something of a terrorist group and he invites Abel to join, which is something I didn't entirely see coming. I'm really enjoying how the world is getting embellished upon and built up more and more with each volume, with new elements being brought in. 

Abel certainly has a decision to make and I'm intrigued to see what he chooses. 

Graineliers is certainly fast paced, and I'm actually enjoying how it's moving things along because it does so without sacrificing world building or backstory, which this volume proves as we get more backstory on the world and how the seeds work, as well as having some blanks about the characters filled in. Things are presented differently in this volume as secrets come to light. 

Abel and Luca are on different paths now and I'm excited to see how they'll grow and change in coming volumes. Plus there's still the mystery of Luca and what seed he has and his father and so on, all to be untangled and revealed. I still can't quite decide if I like Nicolas, and I guess it'll depend on how the next volume or two plays out! This volume in certainly full of surprises! 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Review: The City of Brass

The City of Brass
Rating: 2.5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. 

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. 

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. 

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

Okaaaaay so everyone loves this book and I've been told multiple times how amazing it is, and I finally got a chance to read it after being super busy. However, I'm kind of still not sure how I feel about it. My main issue with the book is that I spent three quarters or so of it kind of bored. Don't get me wrong, I thought the world building was brilliant, but I don't think we needed to spend quite so much time on it, because for me, it really affected the pace and I found myself kind of mildly bored and waiting for things to happen. I also got a little bit confused a few times too which made it difficult for me, the ending was mind blowing though! 

I love anything to do with Egypt or folklore in general, and this book sounded badass, djinn....a con artist MC.....this had been on my radar since last year! I thought the book was richly written, and like I said, the world building was brilliant. But it took me a while to get in to the book, and I spent most of the time reading waiting for things to finally happen, which they did towards the end of the book. By that point I felt like it came maybe a little too late, there was just too much for most of the book where nothing was really happening, our MC doesn't even hit the city until probably half way through. Like the beginning seemed promising and I thought it was going to be fast paced...but it slowed right down and while I loved the writing and the world building...the pace was an issue. 

Don't get me wrong, when everything kicks off at the end it was exactly what I'd been hoping for. Epic battle scenes, with rich writing and detail and information thrown in...but it took so long to get there that I couldn't quite appreciate it. I feel like it would have been better if some of the information had been thrown in here and there rather than all shoved in to the front half of the book. I very nearly gave up on this book because of the slow pace, and the confusion I felt when it came to the rules and inner workings of Daevabad. 

I find myself saying this phrase again but....don't get me wrong, I love it when a book has a meaty amount of political intrigue to sink my teeth in to, it pulls me in and gets me hooked on the book and even puts me on edge at points depending on the book. But when it came to this book, yes, the political intrigue drew me in to an extent, and at points I was feeling quite tense...but I was also very confused for a chunk of the book and even after reading the information at the end of the book I still don't feel like I have everything straightened out. 

There was just too much information and I couldn't sort through it all, it was overwhelming and I felt like a lot of it was all going over my head. I just couldn't wrap my head around most of it. I have to say, I feel incredibly dumb because I still don't know what the difference between some of the factions are and what their problem is exactly and who was working with who against who and why, it made me feel quite fed up to be honest which was disappointing to me. In short....and I never thought I'd be saying this, the world building, while brilliant, was just so damn complex it swiftly crossed over in to confusing and I just couldn't straighten out who was what....Djinn? Daeva? I have no clue. 

As for the characters, I found myself oscillating between liking them and disliking them. Nahri I initially started out liking, she's the kind of MC I love and cheer for, she had attitude, she was a con artist who survived on her wits and was kind of a badass because she was so independent. She did what needed to be done and she was smart, plus she could heal people. My issue with her was that she swiftly went down hill, she irked me more than once and I wanted to smack her a time or two but by the end of the book I felt like she became like every other MC I've ever been disappointed with, you know the ones? The ones that make stupid decisions for no good reason and become a little bit useless and irritating, and it was such a disappointment for me because she was so promising in the beginning.

Nahri is one of our view points, the other is Ali, and I was never entirely sure I liked him. Mostly because I was confused about who was on who's side and why and who the bad guys where supposed to be. I liked him in the beginning....but then I disliked him a bit because he was a wee bit stupid and gullible at points, and then I started to like him again in time for him to jump on Nahri's "Stupid decisions" bandwagon and then that was it for me. I was just so frustrated and done. Plus there where hints of a love triangle and I'm really not here for that. 

Dara was another source of mixed feelings for me, he was mysterious and I was intrigued by him and his past and as we got tidbits of what had happened to him and what he'd done I really felt for him, but he reached a point when I was kind of done with him because he became so arrogant and was kind of a d***. Like I get his view point, I really do, but at this point Ali was pretty much the only character I cared about and then Dara came in and started acting like an arrogant prat and I just couldn't get over it. By the end of the book I really didn't like him, and I didn't particularly like Nahri for going along with him. I didn't particularly care for their romance either. 

I loved the legend and myth that went in to the book, and the writing was vivid, towards the end of the book I did get pulled in by all the plot twists that kept changing my perception of things and the action and the treachery and plotting, and I was kind of devastated by the end of the book...and then the prologue? The prologue was epic. Unfortunately it's a bit of a slog to get there, as you have to wade through over 300 or more pages of info dumping that goes from being manageably complex to swiftly making you confused AF, which kind of overshadowed the whole reading experience for me. I don't know...maybe I'm just dumb, but like I said...I'm still not entirely sure what was going on with the different tribes and so on. Alongside the info dumping the only other thing really happening is the flirting between Dara and Nahri and I was too busy being confused to really focus on it, or care much for it. 

I don't think I've ever been sadder to give a bad review to a book to be honest, because I was just so excited for it and eager to read it and it ended up being such a struggle for me. 

Manga: Aoharu x Machinegun 9

Aoharu x Machinegun Vol 9
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

"I lost everything...I don't have anything left in this world..." 

Toy Gun Gun and Star White team up for the counter battle against 11 DOGs. While fighting alongside Midori as a two-man cell, a glimpse up at the sky brings memories rushing back to Matsuoka. 

This volume opens interestingly as we get an in depth look at Matsuoka's past and his relationship with Midori, and how it all went wrong...sort of. I have plenty of questions along the same line as Matsuoka, but we get to see how he got involved in the survival games and so on. 

Speaking of Matsuoka, he finally manages to get a grip on himself, which I've been shrieking at him to do since last volume. It's been interesting watching his little break down and how he pulls himself out of it and overcomes it. But it looks like he and Midori won't be friends ever again despite working together in this volume. 

This volume finishes off the battle with 11 Dogs, but it plants seeds for some interesting developments next volume. Yukimura has a strange memo in his hand at one point which I'm guessing is a plot set up for the next volume?! Or possibly the future. But you know...I need to know NOW! 

And damn....this volume ends on such a cliffhanger like....FINALLY the reveal is nigh, and I've been waiting for it for ages because how can Matsuoka be so dumb, but the volume's like "nah mate, wait until next volume" like.....I HAVE BEEN WAITING PATIENTLY FOR 9 VOLUMES FOR THIS ALREADY DAMMIT, I NEED IT NOW! I'm so ready for next volume, because things are certainly going to change and there's going to be some drama after this volume that set some things up and filled in some important backstory for us! It really does have an excellent plot pace! 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Review: The Hazle Wood

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

Alice has spent most of her life on the road, always one step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at her heels. But when Alice's grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her isolate estate - the Hazel Wood - Alice discovers how bad her luck can really get.

Her own mother is stolen away - by a figure who claims to come from the supernatural world where the fairy tales are set. Alice's only clue is the message left behind:


To rescue her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began...

I picked up an ARC of this at YALC and recently got a finished copy in Fairy Loot and so I finally got around to picking it up and I thought I'd do a quick review for it! I've seen a lot of people loving this book and raving about it but I'm honestly kind of on the fence about it. 

On the plus side, this book was so very creepy, and there where plenty of plot twists throughout the book. I also really loved the way the stories where woven throughout the main plot. I really liked Finch too, but he wasn't enough to make up for my issues with the book. 

Aside from the time I spent confused and feeling kind of dumb, to be honest, I really didn't get on with the MC Alice. I just didn't like her. I thought she was kind of a cow to be honest, and I really didn't care what was happening to her. I get why she was like that because it's explained at the end of the book, but she was really very horrible, particularly to Finch who was going out of his way to help her. I can't really blame him for what he did to be honest. 

I also found the book to be quite slow and I pretty much forced myself to get through it because everyone had been raving about it and I felt dumb for not loving the book yet, and it made me feel like I didn't get it. However, once I'd finished the book....I still didn't really love the book. The plot just never fully drew me in, and while the writing was flowery, it was also kind of....pretentious. I didn't actually think this was a YA book at first to be honest. Overall it left me feeling underwhelmed and slightly stupid. 

Manga: Days of Goddess

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

While adventurers crawl the Dungeon, the gods and goddesses of Orario are always working hard behind the scenes for their beloved children! The deities who remain on the surface might not brave the labyrinth's depths, but they're just as busy--all of them occupied with duties like managing their familia's business, striking deals, gathering information, or going shopping, stuffing their faces, lounging about not doing much of anythi--adventures! So many adventures! Who can really say what happens in the sometimes precious, occasionally chaotic day-to-day lives of this charming pantheon?

I've been waiting for this volume with baited breath because I completely love Hestia, so I've been excited to see her in the spotlight and see some more of her finally! 

The art is so freaking cute, I'm not going to lie! I seriously love it! The intro to Orario did get a wee bit repetitive but they cut it out after a couple of the shorts. The little shorts themselves where hilarious, and we got to see more of Hestia's everyday life and what she gets up to! Her interactions and relationships with the other gods and goddesses where shown more too which I love! Some of them are like a bickering family. Plenty of familiar faces pop up throughout the volume, not just gods and goddesses! I think Miachi might be one of my favourites now too! I can't quite decide on Loki, but we do get to see a lot of her! We also see Bete like we've never seen him genuinely can't be unseen and will haunt me whenever I read the main series! 

Some of the lines they used cracked me up so much, "Is it wrong to try and work in a dungeon" and so on. I fully cackled. We also get treated to drunk Hestia, Miachi, and Eina and it is freaking hilarious. I'm going to be needing more of that! 

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this spin off, but it ended up being hugely entertaining and had me laughing so much! I also wasn't expecting the shorts to be quite so connected, I guess because of how it was described as four panels I assumed it was going to be separate stories for each of the shorts! I really enjoyed seeing more of Hestia and learning more about her and the other gods and goddesses because I've been so curious about them and how they interact! The interactions between Lilly, Welf, Hestia, Bell and Aiz where hilarious too! 

Days of Goddess is genuinely so funny, and it's not afraid to make fun of itself if all the "is it wrong to *insert word here* in a dungeon" gags are anything to go by! I actually really enjoyed this, like I knew I was going to enjoy it anyway, but it was even better than I was expecting! I look forward to more! 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Manga: Forbidden Scrollery 2

Forbidden Scrollery Vol 2
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

In the mystic realm of Gensokyo, library worker Kosuzuna awakens to her ability to read demon books. This volume crosses over with the games Double Dealing Character and Hopeless Masquerade of the Japanese hit franchise, Touhou! 

The art is quite simply, freaking gorgeous and I love it! The stories are brimming with yokai and myth and legend and sprinkles of our world. The characters are entertaining and intriguing and while the stories are separate, each one is fun and has a lot of depth and detail to it, which I find a pleasant surprise! Although I did wonder if this volume might start to form a plot, with each chapter being linked and so on, but the stories cover one chapter, two at most and remain separate. But like I said...surprisingly they have a lot of detail to them! 

I feel like this volume lets us get to know the characters and their personalities more than the previous volume, and I'm more and more intrigued by them. I'm a sucker for myths and legends too...not to mention yokai so I eagerly read each chapter, let alone volume! The stories themselves continue to be entertaining and colourful too! 

Manga: Love and Lies 4

Love and Lies Vol 4
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The system of governmentally-arranged marriage is supposed to make everyone's life easier, but it's not working for Yukari Nejima. His class is staging a production of Romeo and Juliet for the school festival--and the girl he loves, Misaki, is playing Romeo! Opposite her as Juliet is Yukari's best friend, the perpetually-misunderstood Yusuke. With Yukari working backstage and his governmentally-assigned partner Lilina in the audience, the class play is going to have more star-cross'd lovers than anyone bargained for! 

Yukari asks for advice from the shady government dude (Yajima) from before who could prove to be an interesting character, judging from the snapshot of his backstory that we got, I'm actually hoping to see more of him. I don't think he's entirely down with the notices. Anyways, Yukari opts to follow his feelings, which are kinda complicated right now because he's caught feelings for Lilina methinks. 

Interestingly Yusuke's dad makes an appearance and we finally get to know Yusuke a bit more, which I've been waiting for. The more volumes I read, the more and more certain I am that my suspicions about Yusuke are correct, it's just whether or not the manga is actually going to address that. It'll add an interesting development to the love triangle...square...thing. Whatever you want to call it, it's certainly deepening. 

Some new faces appear and things might finally be getting interesting as I feel things have been quite slow for the past volume or so, and it appears someone may have messed with the government notices, which is yet another interesting development that this volume hits us with! It's added a nice mystery element that's caught my curiosity. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Manga: Clockwork Planet 7

Clockwork Planet Vol 7
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Amid all the conspiracies and plots, the government is forced to come to a stalemate. When threats from mysterious parties and all-powerful weapons seem impossible to overcome, the leader of the military coup starts calling the shots. What's more, the leader's intent behind the coup is more dangerous to humanity than any could have imagined. Japan's national crisis has hit its peak, and Naoto and his friends stand at the core! 

The latest volume of Clockwork Planet is action packed from the start, I loved how the whole attack was drawn, with Naoto and his phases and so on, and the contrast between Ryuzu and Anchor as they attack. Vermouth fully has me cackling too. Volume 7 has a completely hilarious opening chapter! 

The volume is moving things along when it comes to the plot, we have Halter making his return finally, and Marie appears to maybe have a cool power? Or is she just a genius? Or both? Who knows. But Naoto and co swiftly enter the palace and we meet HRH Hoshi. They finally introduce themselves as basically the second Y and present themselves as an enemy to all of Japan, therefore giving the army something to work together on and forget the infighting. 

However, our bad guy is fully gunning for Naoto. He's revealed to be Hirayama and we get a load of backstory on him and what his issue is. Not only that but things are looking pretty dire towards the end of the volume and Anchor runs off to try and save the day while Marie and Naoto have a bit of a bicker. 

Volume 7 brings in a new character who's going to be interesting for sure, and I'm intrigued to see what part they're going to play. The world itself is expanded upon, and we get a lot of backstory and motivations for other characters that we've been curious about. I'm still not entirely sure where this story is going as a whole, but the current arc is definitely shaping up to be pretty epic! 

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Blog Tour: The Bitter Twins

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

The Ninth Rain has fallen, the Jure'lia have returned, and with Ebora a shadow of its former self, the old enemy are closer to conquering Sarn than ever.

Tormalin the Oathless and the Fell-Witch Noon have their hands full dealing with the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for nearly three hundred years. But these are not the great mythological warriors of old; hatched too early and with no link to their past lives, the war-beasts have no memory of the many battles they have fought and won, and no concept of how they can possibly do it again. The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists, but finding it will mean a dangerous journey at a time of war...

Meanwhile, Hestillion is trapped on board the corpse moon, forced into a strange and uneasy alliance with the Jure'lia queen. Something terrifying is growing up there, in the heart of the Behemoth, and the people of Sarn will have no defence against these new monsters. 

I've been waiting for this book eagerly, because the previous book, The Ninth Rain, had some mind blowing plot twists and blew me away and the end certainly left me wanting for more. One of my favourite things about this book is the lack of a lengthy recap going back over everything. We get glimpses of the war beasts via some different POV's, and then we're back with Tor and the crew and everything comes flooding back, with a brief reminder here and there. 

The POV's switch up as our group split up and head off on different missions. Tor and Noon head off on a search for something mentioned in the previous book, while Bern and Aldasair have a job of their own to do at Bern's home, and Vintage holds down the fort. Not to mention Hestellion's POV. I'm not going to lie, I really didn't like her in the first book and I still can't quite make my mind up about her in this book, I spend a lot of time side eyeing her and towards the end I was kind of mentally berating Tor for not killing her when he had the chance. I just can't decide if I like her. Having said that, it's interesting watching her character develop throughout this book, and I'm interested to see where she's going. 

On the subject of familiar faces, Tor has Kirune, his war beast, to bond with...and it's an interesting relationship in the start. Kirune basically ignored everything he said. Funnily enough I did get where Kirune was coming from and Vostok was irritating me too so I feel ya dude. I liked seeing Tor and Kirune bond and come together in this book, their bickering was pretty funny too. Tor finds out an interesting revelation that he has to deal with. I do want to smack Tor sometimes but he's one of my favourite characters. I feel like we start to bond with him and the other existing characters more in this book as we get to explore their characters more.

Noon....I don't know why, but at points in this book she really was beginning to bug me, she and Vostok both. I really liked her in the previous book, but this book...she was just annoying me a lot of the time, which I was kind of disappointed with. Although the final scene with her...I was cheering because finally! I'm so ready to see that scene! I have to mention Aldasair and Bern briefly because I freaking love them and I was so happy with developments for them in this book...well most. Something unpleasant happens to Bern that had me screaming, but he and Aldasair..HELL YES! I feel like we get to know both of them so much more this book and I loved seeing them come in to their own.

Vintage continues to freaking crack me up, she's got such a potty mouth and it has me in fits of giggles. I'd repeat some of her lines here but she has a lot of F-bombs. I really felt for her when certain things went down, it was something I didn't see coming, although I was shouting at her and Eri both because I knew full well what was going to happen and they where so blind to it! Eri is one of the new characters we meet in this book and I was kind of side eyeing him at the beginning, but I ended up really loving him, and he broke my heart in the end! The bickering war beasts where a highlight too, I'm not going to lie and it was interesting watching them grow closer with their respective warriors. 

The world building is truly brilliant, and the battle scenes are written so vividly. We take to the skies more for battles in this book because you know...war beasts! Which was an interesting change to the kind of battle scenes I usually see in books. There's so much freaking heartbreak and betrayal in this book, but also humour and action and just general epicness!  There's some more mad plot twists throughout this book, and we get hit with some huge reveals as what we thought we knew is turned upside down and expanded upon. 

And ya know...once again we're left wanting for more! This is such an original and intriguing series! 


Monday, 12 March 2018

Blog Tour: Strange The Dreamer

Strange The Dreamer 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of my shelves! 

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep. 

I'm going to level with all of you, I got Strange The Dreamer when the fancy hardback was released in Waterstones last know the one? Blue sprayed edges...signed...has some pretty sweet sketches in it courtesy of the author? Yep that one! It's been sitting neatly on my shelf where it can't be harmed, waiting for the day I finally have the time to read it.....and that time finally came. When I was asked to participate in this blog tour to celebrate the release of the paperback version (which is super pretty and I think I need to buy it), I had to say yes because it was an excuse to bump the book up my TBR so I could review it, because as you all know, I've been pretty behind on review books and only just recently caught up which has left no time for everything else sitting on my shelf, sending me puppy eyes. 

Now that I'm sitting here, facing the monumental task of trying to review this book and find words to do it justice, I kind of want to punch past me for not reading it sooner because it was amazing. And when I say amazing, I mean it completely blew me away, for real. It's been so long since I sat and read a book in one sitting that wasn't on holiday, when I'm at home I generally read most books in a couple of sittings because I have so much to do, but I actually had to clear an entire day to read this because as soon as I read the prologue, I was like "Nope, reading this until the end, bye bye responsibilities". 

Strange The Dreamer has a cinematic and vivid opening that pulls you in and the writing keeps you there. The writing is completely gorgeous, it's rich and decadent with its descriptions, painting vivid pictures for you that bring the settings and characters to life. The writing also weaves an intriguing plot full of mystery and magic and alchemy and much, much more. I had so many questions while I was reading and I was thirsting after knowledge of the world. Once Lazlo explained the mystery of Weep I was hopelessly addicted and hooked to this book and I wasn't going anywhere until I'd finished it or at least gotten some clues, if not solved it. However, this book didn't fall in line with any of my expectations. It took them and blew right past them, turning them on their head and surprising me at every turn. Plus...the book was clever....but more on that later. 

First, I want to talk about Lazlo, I immediately loved Lazlo. I empathised with him and connected with him and most of all...I rooted for him. That didn't stop me being suspicious about he and his origins which was the one thing I accurately figured out on my own. The thing with Lazlo is within the first few chapters we see him playing pretend, pretending to be a warrior of the city he's so fascinated with and if that isn't relatable I don't know what is, because come on...we've all done it, when we where kids...teenagers...any age really. Plus you know...he loves books. I loved his narrative and his thirst for answers and knowledge about Weep. 

Along with Lazlo, the story is told from the POV of Sarai, I wasn't too sure about her at first but it didn't take me long to love her completely. Sarai is the daughter of one of the gods, godspawn if you will, and she was supposed to have been killed along with all the others. However, she was saved along with some others and the five of them live in the Citadel. I was so fascinated by her and her thought process. Sure she hated the murderers who wiped out everyone else, but at the same time Sarai is in the unique position, thanks to her gift, to understand why the humans did it. So she's kind of torn between hating them for what they did...but also understanding more than any of the others. I really enjoyed her as much as Lazlo and the two of them....someone sedate me, they where so damn cute and the ending damn near broke me. Not over it. I will probably never be over it. 

Strange The Dreamer is full of plenty of interesting characters both likeable and some...less so. I loved Ruza, he was a fun friend for Lazlo, I loved Calixte because she made me smile and chuckle, Feral I was less sure of, but I felt for Ruby and got where she was coming from. Eril-Fane...he's a difficult one because like Sarai...I get why he did what he did. I really do. I empathise and understand but at the same time you have to side eye him a bit for what he did. Then again it's not like he did it and life became all sunshine and rainbows for him. 

In the 'not so likeable' category there's the horrible little explosion dude, Draver I believe his name was. I honestly, much like the other characters, didn't pay all that much attention to him until he did the Thing we all should have seen coming and wanted to smack him for. Thyon was a tricky one for me, I have him in the 'dislike' camp, but when he first appeared I was thinking to myself, "Will I like you?" because I had a few ideas for how he and Lazlo's relationship could go. I was wrong. But then Lazlo revealed something to  us, the readers, that had me actually feeling sorry for him. Sure it's no excuse to be such a douche, but I did empathise with him and understand why he was the way he was. Then towards the end of the book I found my opinion changing again, because....I could see him becoming likeable. I could see he and Lazlo...maybe becoming friends finally. I guess I'll have to wait for the next book to form a solid opinion. 

Minya though? Wow I really didn't like her. I started out kind of being creeped out by her and mildly irritated, then I went to feeling sorry for her because to be honest...things had been rough for her. I wanted to like her, I wanted to be able to empathise with her and actually like her and not empathise with her but still kind of lowkey hate her...which was what I was doing. Upon finishing the book, I can confirm that she's a nasty little girl, she just went further and further down in my estimations, until the final few pages when I was like "You know what, I was rooting for you but you just took that chance and stamped all over it". Honestly I can't see myself liking her very much, ever. 

The thing about a good chunk of the characters is that there's no solid category to put them in. It's not black and white, it's kind of grey. As much as you might not like a character, the characters are written with such depth that you can understand them and their choices and the why of their actions. You might even feel for them a little bit when you're not being infuriated by them. 

Personally I thought the book was clever, because of the way the characters where portrayed, you basically have two separate camps, and each has their own version of events, and you get to see both. You feel for both. You understand both. But it's kind of hard to pick a side. Sarai saw both sides, as did Lazlo, but many other characters didn't have the same understanding. The other reason this book was clever? The details. There where so many details woven in to the story as you went, for example, the Citadel where Sarai lives. You see it through her eyes, and it's still kind of mysterious but you can still picture it, but then once Lazlo laid his eyes on it and described it for us from a different know...outside, there's some surprise details thrown in which are then expanded upon by Sarai. I loved it. I constantly found my theories, thoughts, and opinions changing as little details like that where revealed slowly throughout the book. 

Strange The Dreamer is quite slow paced, which sounds harsh so lets go with slow burn instead, because while things really speed up and get going towards the end....the book still captivated me which is quite unusual as usually I prefer fast paced books with lots going on. Why? Because as you read, there are details and plot twists scattered throughout the plot like gems, suddenly being unearthed and blowing you away. I was so hooked in to this world I didn't even stop to take notes like I usually do when I review! I was constantly being drawn in and surprised, and amazed, and having questions answered before finding a million more questions to ask. 

The settings where vivid and imaginative, as was the story and the characters. The characters had depth and I wanted to know more about each of them. The developing relationships between characters was interesting to watch, and portrayed brilliantly. I genuinely could not put this book down, the intriguing cast and the mysteries kept me firmly hooked to the page. Not to mention the writing, like I said it was gorgeous, I can't even find words to properly describe it! It's freaking lyrical, and just...flows so perfectly. Much like the pace. 

The ending blew me away to be perfectly honest. I wasn't expecting it to be who it was when the Thing happened, and it changed everything for me. I had an idea of how things might go, and then the Thing happened and it was all turned on it's head and now I'm kind of like "huh...but...what now?!". I'm so excited for the sequel because things are certainly going to be interesting, the ending shifted my perspective on a few things and things I thought would happen and kept on surprising me right up until the end. And you know, confirmed that any sympathy I might have had for Minya died it's last death. Sorry. 

Strange The Dreamer is a gift that keeps on giving, the more you read, the more surprises you uncover, and it's so brilliantly crafted. I'm honestly itching to get back to the world and the characters, and strongly encourage you all to binge read both when the second book's released! 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Review: Not If I Save You First

Not If I Save You First
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Dear Logan,
Someday I'm going to write a book: How Not to Die in Alaska - A Girl's Guide to Fashionable Survival. I bet you don't know that a hair pin can make an excellent fishing hook. You may think you can use just any kind of mud for mud masks, but trust me, you CAN'T! In a pinch, nothing starts a fire like nail polish remover. Alaska is tough. You might know this, if you ever replied to my letters. 

After Maddie's Secret Service dad takes a bullet for the President, he takes Maddie somewhere he thinks they'll be safe....far away from the White House and the President's son, Logan. But when Logan comes to Alaska, or more sentenced there for bad behaviour, he brings the danger with him. If there's one thing Alaska has taught Maddie, it's how to survive. And now her best friends life depends on it....

I really enjoy Ally's books, they're always fun and exciting and have some cute romance to go with the badass female characters. Gallagher Girls was such a blast of a series, as was Heist Society, although I still need to pick up Embassy Row! I was expecting much the same from this book, and I wasn't at all disappointed. 

The opening is entertaining and light hearted as we get introduced to the characters before heading in to some action and serious tension before we hit a nice little time skip. I liked the letters interspersed throughout to show us how Maddie's mind set changed as she spent time in Alaska, and how she felt regarding Logan, it was a nice touch that helped you connect with her and what she was feeling. 

All I really needed to know about Maddie was that she's the kind of girl to bedazzle her favourite hatchet. I loved her, although I did side eye her a bit at the beginning because she was giving off "I'm not like other girls" vibes and I was a bit wary of that. She really can take care of herself and she's quite the badass...but she's still girly and she made for such an entertaining main character! 

Logan I wanted to smack multiple times. Don't get me wrong, I thought he and Maddie where cute and there where plenty of fluffy and cute moments with the two. I'm so here for the romance. My issue with Logan was that he never seemed to quite get that Maddie was perfectly capable of handling herself...even after she demonstrated that she was multiple times. I could handle that, even if it did have me sighing a few times, what really irritated me? The way that anytime Stefan (the kidnapper), or any other guy would look at her or whatever, he went full Hulk and lost all of his chill. There was screaming and shouting and overly testosterone fuelled displays of machismo as he screeched at people not to touch her, or look at her and blah blah blah. Like seriously dude....chill. Have a sit down and a cup of tea and just....relax. It's all good. I think he was a bit bothered by the way he was pretty much useless and Maddie was the capable one. Hit him right in the masculinity. 

Overall Not If I Save You First was a fast paced, action packed and hugely entertaining read (including Logan, sure it was irritating but at the same time I had a good eye roll and "really dude" every time), with some cute romance sprinkled in. I will say that I was expecting the book to go one way, like with Maddie's dad, and I did end up being surprised by the twist at the end! I will forever be wondering how much of Maddie's survival tips are true...

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Review: Spare and Found Parts

Spare and Found Parts
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Nell Crane has never held a boy's hand.
In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts-an arm, a leg, an eye-Nell has always been an outsider. Her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs that everyone now uses. But she's the only one with her machinery on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. And as her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society's good... but how can Nell live up to her father's revolutionary ideas when she has none of her own?
Then she finds a lost mannequin's hand while salvaging on the beach, and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city-and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.
Spare and Found Parts is quite a dark book, yet I found it to be kind of sad at points too, mostly thanks to Nell. While the world was intriguing and vivid, and I pictured it to be quite dark and gritty, the story kind of fell flat for me. Towards the end I was fully invested, but I will admit the start was heavy going for me and it was quite slow much so that I resorted to speed reading to reach a point when things really started to get going. 
I liked Nell well enough, I was on her side and I understood her and empathised with her, although she did come across as a little bit...I don't want to say crazy and unhinged seems a bit too harsh, but she did come across a certain way that had me side eyeing her at one point. She seems a bit Frankenstein-ish. I get that she just wants a friend and doesn't like being touched and so on...but she has two perfectly good friends ready and waiting, a fact she does eventually realise. 
I didn't really like Ruby much to be honest, and Oliver seemed like quite the creeper but I think that was largely down to Nell and her narrative because I'd changed my opinion by the end of the book and quite liked Ruby and Oliver really wasn't that bad. Nell kind of bias's you against certain characters. Odd seeing as Ruby is supposed to be her BFF. 
The flashbacks to Nell's childhood and how she grew up started out interesting but then I couldn't quite see what they had to do with the main story at one point, and the ominous letters from her Nan where a nice touch to add a sense of creepiness. Her father I quite liked at the beginning, he was oddly supportive but I reached a point when I was getting really bad vibes from him. Like you know when you can sense something is wrong, but you can't quite put your finger on what? 
Io's POV was interesting and shed Nell and her relationships in a different light. For me, the ending of the book was when things really picked up and everything started happening at once, with these huge reveals and twists but it just took so long for everything to get started and for Nell to even have her idea to build Io. The pace was just too slow and heavy going for me and I honestly was going to put the book down, but I know a lot of people where raving about it, so I sped read until things picked up, I have to admit. So it's possible I missed some things but overall this book was just okay for me. 

Manga: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash 3

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Volume 3
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Eager for a new challenge, Haruhiro's party descends into the Cyrene Mines. However, as they go deeper, Mary is forced to face the ghosts of her more ways than one!

Yep you read that right, the group are heading in to the mines where all of Mary's party members died. I think we all know this isn't going to end well. Things get pretty tense with Ranta as he makes some questionable moves, and Haruhiro's in a crisis about being a leader so....kind of not the right mentality for facing a super dangerous mine. 

Despite Ranta's idiotic behaviour throughout a large part of this volume, the group does become closer and we get to know Ranta himself better, and why he does what he does, so it was nice to see them all come together, and while I still think Ranta's an idiot....I do understand him and his decisions. 

The group actually looks pretty strong as we come to the end of the volume, having grown closer, and gotten an understanding for each other. Mary's dealt with her past and Haruhiro has a new resolve...finally. I really do want to smack him one sometimes you guys! But the group really bands together and starts to finally look like and come across like a team! The volume has a nice amount of action to keep you occupied, as well as the interesting look at characters. I did like the tension in this volume too as the group where creeping through the mine, and thanks to the first volume, I never assume everything's going to end well! 

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Review: The Extinction Trials

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

In Stormchaser and Lincoln's ruined world, the only way to survive is to risk everything. To face a contest more dangerous than anyone can imagine. And they will do ANYTHING to win. But in a land full of monsters - both human and reptilian - they can't afford to trust anyone. Perhaps not even each other...

I freaking love dinosaurs, Jurassic Park is one of my favourite films and I loved Primeval when it was airing, so I had to pick this up because you know...dinosaurs! The start was incredibly intriguing like...hello Plesiosaur! There's also intriguing tidbits of the world scattered throughout that makes you want to know more and our MC has a secret of her own that you're itching to find out! 

The Extinction Trials is basically a voluntary Hunger Games to see who's going to make the cut to get to go and rile up the dinosaurs by partaking in a spot of light egg-napping. Unfortunately everything they've been told doesn't add up and it turns out the dinosaurs are quite intelligent. This is certainly an original read! 

I loved our MC Storm, she's intelligent and determined and she's asking all the right questions. I was fully on her side and I was rooting for her throughout. Our other MC Lincoln, I was less sure of. He's certainly determined and I got where he was coming from and what his motivation was, but I still didn't entirely trust him in the beginning, then he kind of lulled me in to a false sense of security, before I ended up actually saying "Don't be messing with Storm bruh" because I knew he was ultimately going to do something shady. 

That being said, there's plenty of characters who are far shadier than Lincoln for less noble reasons. One of them got what was coming to him but he was really just there to be a complete a-hole and then get his just desserts. There was plenty of tension thanks to all the shady characters, and I was never entirely sure who to trust. 

I really enjoyed the growing bond between Storm, Leif and Lincoln, but like I said...I didn't trust Lincoln, and I had such a bad feeling about what he was going to do. There's plenty of twists and the betrayal at the end I kind of saw coming..but I didn't see how exactly it was going to play out. It was kind of sad to see the three people you where rooting for and who had bonded and worked so well together basically toss each other under the bus. To be fair, Storm did help out Leif and Leif returned the favour. I knew what Storm was going to do, but the conclusion certainly had me on the edge of my seat. 

I'm not entirely sure I ship Storm and Lincoln because while she opened up and trusted him and told him things, he still kept everything to himself and kept things close and didn't really return the favour, I think I need to see more of them to decide! I'm hoping we'll get more of Leif though! 

The Extinction Trials is fast paced and set in an interesting world that had me endlessly curious. It all seems a bit shady and I was fully in agreement with Storm about how off it all seemed, especially when it came to the people in charge and then on Pleiora it was all kind of confirmed and just had me like...okay...they're going to be endlessly idiotic and destroy things, you better sort them out Storm! There where so many surprises and I'm intrigued to see what's going to happen next, what'll happen to the dinosaurs? What' the deal with Reban? I think I know, there where a couple of mildly predictable things but then I wouldn't be surprised if they got twisted too! 

All in all the Extinction Trials is an original and exciting read, and it's certainly a wild ride. There's plenty of tension and it really has you on the edge of your seat...and kind of riding an adrenalin high too when the characters pull things off! The world was nicely described, and certain things where....grimly vivid too! I wasn't expecting quite so much to be packed in and covered in this book so I'm intrigued to see how things will continue and where the story will go from here! 

Manga: Sword Oratoria Vol 2

Sword Oratoria Vol 2
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The peerless Sword Princess can't seem to forget the sight of a young boy running away from her. Watching his receding back brings up memories from her own past and she begins to question her sole ideal of devoting everything to become stronger. For the first time ever, is Aiz is a bit troubled by her heart like any normal young girl?? 

Is it wrong of me to say that I'm enjoying Sword Oratoria more than I am the main series? The main series has had a few volumes where nothing much has happened to be honest, but so far Sword Oratoria has been action packed for each volume and I'm loving it! 

As we rejoin Aiz and co, the quest is over and Loki Familia have to sell all their drop items before they head out to celebrate...unfortunately it turns sour thanks to Bete and THAT incident happens. You know...the one where Bell overhears something and gets upset and runs away. Yep. That happens. It's interesting to see it from another perspective, because when you see it from Bell's POV you kind of think one way about the characters, but seeing it from Aiz's you see them in a new light. 

Aiz is kind of struggling with her feelings and dreams of the past, and the others are determined to cheer her up...which means a girls day shopping! Plus Monsterphilia is approaching and of course...something goes wrong. *cue ominous music* 

The art for this series is completely gorgeous, and I really loved how Lefiya's magic and magic circles where drawn in this volume, as well as the backgrounds. I know it's an odd thing for me to focus on, but so often the backgrounds are just kind of...there, it's nice to see backgrounds that have had effort put in to them, and are nicely detailed! 

There's plenty of action to go with the humour this volume, and the Gods...or at least two of them, are definitely up to no good and there's a sense of something shady at the end...but what? I have so many questions and there's so many little plot threads throughout, it's another excellent volume!

Monday, 26 February 2018

Manga: Gabriel Dropout 2

Gabriel Dropout Vol 2
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Gabriel's lazy adventures in the human world continue as she gets roped into going to the beach!

Poor old Gabriel just wants to chill at home, but she gets dragged to the beach once exams are over and done with and vacation starts. But that's not all for this volume, we get to see how Gabriel and Vignette first met, Vignette and Raphy get to know each other....and then it's Halloween so Satanya is loving life. 

The art is seriously so super cute, I can't even. The story and the characters are hilarious, there's plenty of humour packed in. I have to say, I think Satanya is my favourite and Gabriel is just so damn relatable! The banter between the two is completely hilarious too! I'm so looking forward to seeing more of the two of them, they're my favourite part of the series! 

While the stories are largely separate there are little threads that link them to each other, although there's no overarching plot and I'm not sure there will be! This volume does let us get to know the characters a little better, and see the interactions between them some more though! 
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