Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Review: Amari and the Night Brothers


Rating: 5/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy! 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Amari Peters knows three things.

Her big brother Quinton has gone missing.
No one will talk about it.
His mysterious job holds the secret . . .

So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon.

Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous.

With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton . . .

It's brutal honesty time when it comes to this book, I'm not going to hold back and I'm going to tell you straight up that this is not only one of my favourite books of the year...but one of my ultimate favourite books! I completely fell in love with this book and I didn't want it to end at all. I'm so, ridiculously excited for this series and to see what it's going to throw at us next because it blew away all my expectations and didn't even end how I thought it would and changed my assumption of how this series was going to go! 

I know I say this a lot, about books grabbing me from the start but this one truly does pull you in, grab you and keep a tight hold. I whizzed through the first few chapters because I couldn't put it down and that was a running theme throughout the book! I found it almost impossible to put down, I kept wanting to read just one more chapter and then one chapter turned into two. I had to know what was going on and I was so intrigued by the plot and the world being built. I was just as amazed by everything being shown to us as Amari was! I also think this is the fastest that I've ever been hit with the feeling of wanting to crawl into a book, both to experience the world and deliver a smackdown to a character that really deserved it! I was seriously only a few pages in! 

Honestly, this book is completely brilliant, I giggled so much, gasped in wonder and had so much fun reading this book. It's a little bit like Men in Black but for Supernaturals instead of aliens and there were so many awesome departments and imaginative elements to it. 

Amari I rooted for from the beginning, I can't speak as to accurate representation but I really loved having a black main character and I personally think the oppression she encountered because of her skin colour were wonderfully portrayed and will certainly make readers think about their own actions and prejudices.  I just wanted Amari to get a cool badge and be a hero and see that she is just as good and amazing as her brother. I loved her so much, she's already claimed a place in my heart as one of my favourite characters, she's got the snark and the courage that I love and find inspiring. I got a little emotional when she started to accept herself and discover for herself that she's holding herself to an impossible standard and that she's good enough just as she is. It's a whole journey that really hit me in the heart and made me do some thinking! I just feel like Amari is a really fun, fresh voice throughout the book. 

Speaking of her brother, I have to say I loved the relationship between Amari and Quinton. I've read so many books with the characters hating their siblings, or falling out with them constantly that I really enjoyed reading about a strong sibling bond. I just wish we could see more of him! I'd also love to see more of Elsie the weredragon and Amari's best friend! I felt like she was a really great support to Amari, willing to help her unquestioningly and Amari encouraged her to be courageous in her own way as a result of that. Dylan...I was fifty fifty on him for most of the book and there's a couple of great surprises with him that I wasn't expecting because Alston lured me into a false sense of security even though I had a little voice niggling at me. When it comes to his twin Lara...she's a nasty piece of work but after the end of the book I'm quite hoping she might be redeemable. My point is, the cast of characters are brilliant and each really stood out and made me feel various different things. 

Amari and the Night Brothers is so imaginative, there's all different kinds of magician including technology! We've got all kinds of creatures with intriguing history to them and I'm going to hold out some hope for a companion book about them all. It's wonderfully plotted, with a great pace to it and incredibly well thought out and entertaining. 

I read this book so easily, I never wanted to put it down and I had a burning desire to get back to it and read until stupidly late at night. If University and assignments weren't a thing, I 100% would have done an all nighter for the first time in years to read this all in one go. I'm going to be brutally honest once again and say that I found this book to be a great comfort to me. I'm sure I'm not alone with finding this new lockdown a little tougher than the others and combined with University I've been pretty miserable lately. But luckily, I picked this book to read at the right time and took so much comfort in being able to vanish into this world of magic and the supernatural. This wonderful world that exists alongside ours and hidden within it. 

Amari and the Night Brothers has some great humour, action, mystery and a whole lot of imagination and heart to it. It's a really, genuinely fun read and Amari's journey to accept herself really touched my heart. I could tell within 20 pages that this was going to be a new favourite of mine and I can't wait to go back to work and start pushing this into people's hands and recommending it because I need everyone to read this book now!

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Review: The Dark Archive

 



The Dark Archive

Rating: 5/5

Buy or Borrow: Buy! 

Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Danger is part of the day job for a Librarian spy. So Irene's hoping for a relaxing weekend at last. However, her jaunt to Guernsey proves no such thing. Instead of retrieving a rare book, she's almost assassinated, Kai's poisoned and Vale barely escapes with his life. Then the attacks continue in London - targeting those connected with the Fae-dragon peace treaty. 

Irene knows she must stop the plot before the treaty fails...or someone dies. But when Irene and friends are trapped underground, in a secret archive, things don't look so good. Then an old enemy demands vengeance, and a shocking secret is revealed. Can Irene really seize victory from chaos?

I say this every single time I review this series, but it genuinely is one of my absolute favourite series and I always look forward to each new book in the series! They've never let me down yet and The Dark Archive is another brilliant trip into the world of The Library. 

The prologue certainly sets us up for a wild ride, reminding us of Irene's new Fae apprentice and informing us that there's been several kidnap attempts already so already we're feeling the intrigue! Then it's straight in with the action and the introduction of a criminal mastermind for Vale to contend with. That's the thing about Cogman's books, we dive straight in and there's plenty to hook you and keep your attention and you know it's going to be good. I really do love how quick they are to pull me into the world and the plot, and this one has a particularly nice balance of action and sleuthing. 

Irene continues to be one of my ultimate favourite characters, and Kai...well, I'd love to be as unbothered as Kai about being poisoned. It was almost hilarious how chilled he was about the whole thing! I love that even though he's been with us for the entire series, there's still more to learn about he and his family and this book delivers with that. We briefly meet Kai's cousin, and then his older brother Shan Yuan who quite frankly, I really wanted to smack more than once. I find Kai's family so interesting and I spent the whole book side-eyeing Shan Yuan because I couldn't figure out if he's really that bad or if there's some room for redemption for him. I still haven't quite decided even after finishing the book! Of course, while meeting more of Kai's family we get to delve a bit deeper into the dragon world again and meet the technological side of it with a tech whiz elder dragon! 

I can't speak about Kai without speaking about he and Irene's relationship, which I continue to love with every fibre of my being! They work so well together and they're strong for each other and ugh...I love them. 

I'm going to be honest, when it comes to Irene's new apprentice Catherine...I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about her at first. She bugged me a bit in the beginning because she didn't listen but at the same time, perhaps I just settled into a groove with Kai and Irene and her changing things up irritated me as a result! I did come to understand Catherine more as the book went on and she definitely proved herself capable of being Irene's apprentice despite some minor hiccups as we went along. I will say that I'm looking forward to seeing more of her and see what happens after the events of the end of the book! 

There's lots of tension as Irene and co are all targets of a mysterious figure called The Professor, and an old face comes back to wreak havoc. The screeches I let out at some of the reveals in this book! While there's plenty of tension, there's also a good amount of action to go along with it, which makes it quite a hard book to put down! 

I love the multi POV's, the switches are always nicely timed and each POV brings us something different. We don't rehash the same scene over and over from a different perspective instead they're used to push the story forward and add to it. We've got Irene following one path, Kai going down another route with the dragons and then Vale doing some good old traditional detective work/Sherlocking. I'm also always here for getting a look into the minds of other characters, particularly one's like Vale that we don't always see a lot of! 

Essentially, everyone's stuck in London while an evil genius tries to kill them in many different ways, and they try to figure out who it is with a building sense of foreboding towards the end. I did get a chuckle out of how blasé they were about the attempts on their life at this point! I feel like the storyline for this book helps to keep the series fresh, it's less about retrieving a book and returning it to the Library and it's a change of pace so the series doesn't get repetitive. Not that I don't love the book hunting and all the different worlds, but I loved exploring more of the world that Irene has chosen as her home and we even get to visit an invention exhibition where things get a little...wild. 

The plot builds up wonderfully and the pieces click together one by one. I really love that old villain's aren't just brought back for the sake of it, or the shock factor, there's a very good reason for it and it usually indicates that something bigger is going on. I have to say, the last few chapters were nail biting for me and for a minute there I truly thought that we'd lost Irene. I was sitting there, staring at the page trying to figure out what was going on, what was going to happen and how the series could continue without her! Then there's the reveals...like I said, there was a lot of screeching. Particularly over one, and lets just say I've had my suspicions about Irene and her background! I'm still curious about it, the mystery isn't entirely solved but we're given a tidbit of it to tide us over! 

But as if that all wasn't enough...there's the epilogue. As if the wait for the next book isn't going to be hard enough as it is! I was reading it trying to figure out who was who and what exactly's going on at this point!  It's ramped up my anticipation for the next book to a ridiculous degree, I'm already impatient for it! 

Honestly, these books are one of the highlight's of my year ever since I read an advanced copy of the very first book! I wait with baited breath for the new one, plan specifically when to read it because I know I'm going to procrastinate a little from reading it because even though I've had an entire year to prepare myself...I'm still not quite ready, and then I binge read the whole thing in a couple of days and don't know what to do with myself after! I'm being genuine when I say these books never let me down, ever. 

The Dark Archive is another strong instalment in the series, I whizzed my way through it and found it impossible to put it down as I enjoyed every single page! There's action, tension, intrigue and more depth continuously being added to the characters and their backgrounds with more new tidbits and reveals to ramp up the intrigue for the next book! 

Monday, 19 October 2020

Review: Spoiler Alert

 

Spoiler Alert 

Rating: 4/5 

Buy or Borrow: Buy! 

Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, he's known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster. Through his stories, Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character, especially the ones that feature the internet's favourite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he'd be fired. Immediately.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she's hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her 'real life' for years - but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realises life is really stranger than fanfiction.

Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realises that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she's actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.

With love and Marcus's career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?

Ah, that opening scene had me flashing back to the days I spent filming a certain movie and all of the blood, sweat and tears that I poured into it. Vividly. It was certainly an opening that hooked my attention and pulled me in and I genuinely think I'd probably watch that show if it existed! Or at least read the books! 

I knew I was going to love this book based on the opening alone. The narrative caught my attention and had me giggling within a couple of pages, and it made my geeky self happy because I was 100% sure that Dade was having a little bit of a GoT reference. All I'm saying is...it reeked of GoT and a certain pair of showrunners that we all love to hate for a certain season finale. I couldn't help but wonder if the actors in real life felt the same way as the actors in the book. 

I lived for all the mentions of the other movies and shows that Marcus has starred in, along with their descriptions AND the script extracts. I was howling at some of them, they were so brilliantly cringey I can't believe Dade came up with them! I can't begin to imagine how much fun Dade had coming up with all of these and then writing little extracts for them, I was snickering to myself so much while I was reading them! I also loved the fan fiction extracts, complete with AO3 tags! My nerdy self was so, incredibly happy reading this and I could more than relate to the fan fiction and fix it fics and so on. It kind of reminded me why I love fan fiction so much and how much fix it fic I read for a certain show at one point when it took an annoying turn! 

Spoiler Alert is a fluffy romance, it was cute and sweet and funny...but it also had a depth to it and the characters that I hadn't entirely been expecting. April and Marcus both had things to overcome and work through, and while the romance was brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed it, the emotional depth to the story really made it for me! Marcus puts up this false image to hide himself away so everyone thinks he's stupid but he actually has Dyslexia and his parents weren't too kind to him about it. They're super smart and they got very frustrated and lately they've been belittling his choice of roles and don't seem to realise what they're doing or that it's wrong. April has a mother that loves her dearly, and truly is just trying to look out for her...but is hurting April in the process because of her unhealthy views on weight and food that have been drilled into her. In short, they're both dealing with emotional abuse from their parents and I thought it was tackled really well. 

The way April went to  her mother and the conversation they had about it really hit me, and I thought it was a fantastically written scene. Not to mention the fact that there was no insistence that parents have to be forgiven and you have to remain in contact with family members that hurt you. I really loved how the entire situation was handled, and I loved watching April and Marcus have real conversations about this. I also liked that any misunderstanding was talked out pretty quickly and there's lots of admission of fault that I really respected from the characters. 

April I utterly loved! She's so confident and such a strong character throughout and she never doubts her self worth and never loses her self respect throughout the book. I rooted for her 100% and I completely got where Marcus was coming from too. I really enjoyed watching them come together and overcome things together, but I also loved the way they loved themselves and Marcus especially came to have and believe in his own self-worth. 

And finally...our support characters. I LOVED all the fights amongst the cast members in the group chat that they had! I had a note written to myself that I'd love a spin off book about Alex because I think he might be my favourite but then when I got to the end of the book and the note that was there...my wish was granted and I already can't wait for that! 

I had a really good time reading Spoiler Alert, I laughed, I got emotional and I looked forward to picking the book up every single time I had to put it down. I love a good dose of the nerdy and the inclusion of the fan fiction element had me feeling right at home and nodding along with certain aspects to it that were described! I also pretty much equated the show to GoT and it brought back a rush of feels along the lines of...'I dedicated how many hours of my life for THAT ending?! You've got to be kidding me'. But the thing that stays with me the most about this book are the characters and the struggles that they overcome throughout the book. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Review: Set Fire To The Gods

 

Set Fire to the Gods

Rating: 3/5

Buy or Borrow: Buy

Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.

Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family's taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn't have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn't been seen in centuries.

When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games. The fights put Madoc in Ash's path, and she realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior. 

But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world. 

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I LOVE Sara Raasch's books. There's not been a book of hers that I haven't 100% loved and completely fallen into! As such, I was incredibly excited for this book. Brand New Raasch, plus Gods, plus a Gladiator aspect!? I NEEDED it, more than I needed anything else. However, my excitement dimmed a little as I started to read and this book ended up being a little bit of a mix for me and kind of hard for me to give a rating. 

I was immediately intrigued by the world of the book, how it worked and the magic aspect as well as the Gods and their history. The main characters were intriguing as they're both on opposite sides of this war and seemingly heading towards a big, final showdown despite their developing feelings for each other and I couldn't wait to see it play out! 

Ash is such a badass and I always love to see a female character that's more than capable of holding her own and is no damsel in distress. Ash ticked every box for me in that regard. Madoc I liked well enough, perhaps slightly less than Ash...sorry. The most interesting aspect to him was his magic and what exactly it was and how it worked. The two of them share a mutual hatred towards the Gods...or well, Madoc hates Ash's God but loves his own while Ash hates her God completely. The thing I found most interesting was Madoc's journey with his God and how he felt about him, he'd always prayed to him for everything and then he discovers he might not be as fantastic as he thought. For Ash, hers was kind of the opposite journey, she's come to hate her God but slowly discovers that maybe Ignitus isn't all bad and I actually kind of felt for him and would have liked to see more of him! 

The setting was created well enough although I'd have loved to delve into a bit more. I think we're getting to see more of Ash's land and the rest of the world in the next book which I'm excited for! There are a lot of twists and turns throughout, but I will admit that I did find myself not entirely riveted to the story and that makes me so incredibly sad. I'd been so excited for this book, but I didn't feel that burning need to pick it up and keep reading. I'd put it down, wake up the next day and I wouldn't be thinking about it and rushing to get back to reading it. In all honesty, I did briefly contemplate DNF-ing but because I love Raasch's books so much and her writing, I pushed on. 

Things do pick up towards the latter half of the book and I did find myself once again curious about what would happen next, and I am curious to see how things are going to play out in the next book! But I'm also on the fence about actually picking it up as I found it kind of hard to connect to Madoc and Ash and the plot was a little bland for a good chunk of this book. 

I think I might give the sequel a try to see if starts off stronger and is more consistent with the plot but I might be stricter at DNF-ing this time around. 

Monday, 12 October 2020

Review: Beast Boy

 

Teen Titans: Beast Boy 

Rating: 4/5

Buy or Borrow: Buy! 

Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Garfield Logan has spent his entire life being overlooked. Even in a small town like Eden, Georgia, the 17-year-old with green streaks in his hair can’t find a way to stand out–and the clock is ticking. Senior year is almost over. If Gar doesn’t find a way to impress the Chosen Ones–the social elite at Bull Creek High School–he will never know what it’s like to matter. Gar’s best friends, Stella and Tank, don’t understand why he cares what other people think. They miss their funny, pizza-loving, video game-obsessed best friend.

Then Gar accepts a wild dare out of the blue. It impresses the Chosen Ones and his social status soars. But other things are changing, too. Gar grows six inches overnight. His voice drops and, suddenly, he’s stronger and faster. He’s finally getting everything he wanted, but his newfound popularity comes at a price. Gar has to work harder to impress his new friends. The dares keep getting bigger and the stakes keep getting higher.

When Gar realizes the extent of his physical changes, he has to dig deep and face the truth about himself–and the people who truly matter–before his life spirals out of control. 

So, Beast Boy is my absolute favourite in Teen Titans so I've been practically vibrating in excitement waiting for this to come out! I really enjoyed Garcia and Picolo's work on Raven and I couldn't wait to see what they'd do with Beast Boy! 

Once again, I loved how the colour scheme for the volume's art was all shades of green or cool tones to match Beast Boy much like for Raven's volume it was all purple and blue! I also liked the art once again, particularly how the scientific aspects/DNA/body diagram's were all drawn and time passing and so on.  

I feel like Gar is quite relatable with the whole 'everyone has a thing, you just haven't found yours yet' thing, I know I felt that deeply anyway! I also feel like he's incredibly relatable with his desire to fit in and be popular if only to see what it's like. He doesn't go too crazy with it or let it get to him that much though it does push him at one point. Overall Gar is basically just really relatable in this volume and there's some teen angst because of everything he's going through with being small and kind of weedy, I guess? There's an additional, subtle thread of something strange going on with him woven throughout that builds up and comes to a nice climax towards the end of the volume! 

I loved Gar's friends and how Stella and Tank always had his back! I'm sad that he had to leave them behind for the next phase of the story! Beast Boy is a nicely paced origin story showing how Gar comes into his power and where it came from. It builds throughout the volume until he finally realises something's wrong and what that is and has to go to Slade for help! He's not entirely in control of his power and we don't see too much of it, I'm sure we will in the next volume though! Slade is such an ominous presence, I can't lie! 

I liked how the story flowed up until the end and set things up for the next volume and the next phase as Beast Boy and Raven will no doubt meet! Gar still has a way to go with controlling and understanding his power, but he's well on his way! 

Friday, 9 October 2020

Manga: Wandering Witch

 

Wandering Witch Vol 1 

Rating: 3/5

Buy or borrow: Buy

Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Ever since she was a little girl reading books of magic and adventure, Elaina has dreamed of following in the footsteps of her childhood idol, the witch Nique, and living a life of travel. Now a full-fledged witch herself, Elaina sets off on a journey without a destination, wandering far and wide to see the world. With each new place she sees and person she meets, Elaina's world grows a little bit richer. 

I haven't read the light novel that this manga is adapted from, so I can't speak to how well it is or isn't adapted. I did think that the art was cute, there was a fairy tale/storybook feel to it and a nice amount of detail to the characters and background. 

I did think that it was very nicely paced and moved smoothly from one adventure to the other and encounter to encounter. Things are solved quickly and neatly in each case and there's no wasted time throughout the volume. It's very....episodic? In its structure! 

However, I wasn't particularly grabbed by this volume, I found it hard to connect with Elaina and I wasn't very invested in it either. I felt like there was no depth to her character which is always a problem for me. While I did enjoy the volume well enough, I doubt I'll be continuing the series, it wasn't really what I was expecting and it's not really my kind of vibe! 

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