Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Mechanical Bird: A Tale of Two Ladies, Glenn Song


She wanted to go back to her tower room and absorb herself in her stacks of algebra
Alicia Reynard, a country farm girl, has dreamed of flying like a bird as long as she can remember. For her, these dreams have become a quest to build a flying steam carriage. Lady Elena Singleton, a young noblewoman, is in love with mathematics and the new field of mechanical computation. When their country Maedrelleden goes to war with their northern neighbor, Vergenstat, the men are conscripted to fight for king and country. In their absence, an opportunity arises for these two very different women to gain a higher education in the capital of Aeterall. Will this chance be the opportunity to unlock their potential and ingenuity?

The Mechanical Bird: A Tale of Two Ladies is, as far as I can gather, a whole book chopped into thirds. Whilst it is the length of a novella it is not a novella in the sense that it does not contain a complete story arc and so, whilst I enjoyed the characters and the direction that this book was taking, I'm not quite sure why the author chose to publish his work thus, which is why I have left this book unrated.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

[article] Five Upcoming Fantasy & Sci-fi Under-the-Radar Releases, 2017


Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings books are my all-time favourite fantasy series


Five Upcoming Fantasy & Sci-fi Under-the-Radar Releases



Or, Five Books That Sound Really Cool That You Probably Haven't Heard Of



I get a good chunk of my reading recommendations from Goodreads and for some reason the majority of my friends on there read YA rather than adult fantasy or sci-fi. So to find those awesome adult / older teen fantasy novels (think Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn or The Way of Kings), I normally have to do a bit of digging, often at the back of a charity shop. So I've compiled a list of five fantasy and sci-fi novels coming out later this year that I've got my eye on that I don't think are particularly well known. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Boy With The Porcelain Blade, Den Patrick


Vanity is always the first casualty of survival
Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted - but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the 'insane' women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.


Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself

* * *
3 / 5 


I picked up The Boy With The Porcelain Blade from the library on a whim, mostly because the cover was nice and the title sounded a bit intriguing. For the first half or so I was rather underwhelmed, annoyed partly by constant switching back and forward in time and partly by the arrogant main character, Lucien. But slowly the book started to grow on me as the characters got fleshed out more and the action started building momentum. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Assassin's Fate (Fitz & the Fool #3), Robin Hobb


"Don't doubt us, or we are lost."
"Fitz, my love, that is the problem. I do not doubt Bee's dreams at all" 

Prince FitzChivalry Farseer’s daughter Bee was violently abducted from Withywoods by Servants of the Four in their search for the Unexpected Son, foretold to wield great power. With Fitz in pursuit, the Servants fled through a Skill-pillar, leaving no trace. It seems certain that they and their young hostage have perished in the Skill-river.

Clerres, where White Prophets were trained by the Servants to set the world on a better path, has been corrupted by greed. Fitz is determined to reach the city and take vengeance on the Four, not only for the loss of Bee but also for their torture of the Fool. Accompanied by FitzVigilant, son of the assassin Chade, Chade’s protégé Spark and the stableboy Perseverance, Bee's only friend, their journey will take them from the Elderling city of Kelsingra, down the perilous Rain Wild River, and on to the Pirate Isles.

Their mission for revenge will become a voyage of discovery, as well as of reunions, transformations and heartrending shocks. Startling answers to old mysteries are revealed. What became of the liveships Paragon and Vivacia and their crews? What is the origin of the Others and their eerie beach? How are liveships and dragons connected?

*this review contains mild spoilers for all previous Robin Hobb books*


* * * * *
5 / 5

I don't really have the words to say how much this series, these books, these characters have meant to me. But I will, nevertheless, try my best. I read Assassin's Apprentice when I was thirteen years old, and I genuinely believe that it changed my life, so when Robin Hobb announced that she would be writing the Fitz & the Fool trilogy a few years back, I was absolutely delighted. Whilst I enjoyed Fool's Assassin and Fool's Quest, they pale next to this stunning conclusion. Mostly, this is a result of a clear plot direction and the reunion of FitzChivalry and Beloved.   

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Under Rose-Tainted Skies, Louise Gornall


"I'm being forced to challenge ideas that have kept me safe for so long"
At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.


But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.



Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

* * 
2 / 5 

Under Rose-Tainted Skies has taught me two things: firstly, to read the backs of books properly in order to correctly identify a YA romance, rather than a general YA book. Secondly, that YA romances are just not my thing. Whilst Under Rose-Tainted Skies has an insightful and respectful portrayal of various types of mental health issues (OCD, agoraphobia, anxiety), the book feels directionless and the romance falls flat. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Selection (The Selection #1), Kiera Cass


"No, I'm not choosing him or you. I'm choosing me."
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.


Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

* .5
1.5 / 5

I didn't really expect to enjoy The Selection, but I was hoping it would be enjoyable in the same sort of way that Made in Chelsea is enjoyable - it's complete and utter trash, but it's fun trash. But most of the time The Selection isn't really that fun. It's key flaw, I think, is that it tries to be serious. If it had owned the fact that it's a weird Hunger Games parody, it might have been more enjoyable.

Monday, 15 May 2017

[article] Five Upcoming YA Under-the-Radar Releases, 2017



Five Upcoming YA Under-the-Radar Releases



Or, Five Books That Sound Really Cool That You Probably Haven't Heard Of



Like a lot of readers, I get many of my book recommendations from my friends or from Goodreads. What that means is that a lot of the books I preorder or get excited for in advance are popular books - the hype on my dashboard surrounding A Court of Wings and Ruin would be a good example. This means that, unfortunately, whilst the hype machine can pick up wonderful reads that I might not have otherwise tried, a lot of great books slip under the metaphorical radar.