Thursday, 21 September 2017

[discussion] Books With Artists


Some books are just art themselves, unlike my photography skills



Books With Artists




Or, Some Characters I Love & Books I'm Unashamed to Drool Over



This article is a companion piece of sorts to my article about books with sport, but as much as I like doing sport, reading about it can be kinda dull. Art and artists, however, are almost always awesome to read about. Characters that write, characters that paint, that draw, that sculpt, characters that are works of art themselves, that's what this article is about!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

I Am Traitor, Sif Sigmarsdottir

I was a traitor. I was a traitor to my country. I was a traitor to my people. I was a traitor to my planet


London has been targeted by extra-terrestrial life; large pipes fall from the sky, sucking teenagers up into a world that is entirely unimaginable. Amy Sullivan surrenders in a quest to save the teenage population. But nobody can prepare her for what's on the other side of the pipes; a grim and gruelling dystopian world run a specialised government. In order to save the human race, she must literally fight the other species. 


Then Amy meets Caesar, a boy who doesn't seem entirely normal. Amy must decide what's more important - saving planet Earth, or following her heart - wherever it might lead.  
* * 
2 / 5

I've never read anything quite like I Am Traitor, it's an imaginative book if nothing else. We have an alien invasion, teenagers being kidnapped, and a sense of foggy mystery that pervades the book so I never felt quite sure what was going on. Whilst interesting and keeps the reader on their toes, this also made it a very confusing and difficult read for me, not helped by the fact that several key elements of the book were not quite my thing.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Management Style of the Supreme Beings, Tom Holt


"Ho, ho, ho?" Then he grinned, ear to ear. "He's back,"
When the Supreme Being and his son decide that being supreme isn't for them any more, it's inevitable that things get a bit of a shake-up. It soon becomes apparent that our new owners, the Venturi brothers, have a very different perspective on all sorts of things. Take Good and Evil, for example. For them, it's an outdated concept that never worked particularly well in the first place.
Unfortunately, the sudden disappearance of right and wrong, while welcomed by some, raises certain concerns amongst those still attached to the previous team's management style. In particular, there's one of the old gods who didn't move out with the others. A reclusive chap, he lives somewhere up north, and only a handful even believe in him. But he's watching. And he really does need to know if you've been naughty or nice.
* * * 
3 / 5


When I first laid eyes upon the cover of The Management Style of the Supreme Beings, I thought it was one of those slightly weird self-help books. You know the kind, the Seven Habits of the Highly Effective Worker, or How To Get Rich Quick, and Sell Your Soul To The Devil That Is Capitalism kind of book. Obviously, this is intentional, and the content of The Management Style of the Supreme Beings is every bit as weird as its cover. 

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Diabolic (The Diabolic #1), S. Kincaid


Everyone believed that Diabolics were fearless, but in my earliest years, all I knew was fear
Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator's daughter, Sidonia. There's no one Nemesis wouldn't kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.


Now one of the galaxy's most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she's been told she doesn't have - humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire

* * * * 
4 / 5

For some reason, perhaps I'd previously read a bad review, I wasn't expecting much when I opened The Diabolic. I was completely wrong. This book was amazing and it took my breath away. The Diabolic is brutal and clever and full of conspiracies, power plays, and revolution. It's such an inventive world, so rich in characters and politics, with the character of Nemesis at the fore. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1), Scott Reintgen


Babel pushes us over cliffs and expects us to fly. Sometimes we do.
Emmett Atwater isn't just leaving Detroit; he's leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family. Forever. 


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden--a planet that Babel has kept hidden--where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe. But Babel's ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won't forever compromise what it means to be human.

* * * * *
5 / 5

Wow. This book completely blew me away. It reminded me a little of Ender's Game - kids recruited for some mission in space by a vaguely nefarious company, set against each other in a series of games, always loomed over by a massive scoreboard - and whilst Ender's Game does have a massive twist near the end, I enjoyed Nyxia a heck of a lot more. Reintgen crafted such excellent characters, there's so much emotion in this book, but also so much badassery, and I was even rooting for the romance! I can't even remember the last book I read where I wanted the romance to work out.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Antisocial, Heidi Cullinan





Belief is powerful and important. Without it, we’re nothing but ants crawling across the dirt


Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another.

* *

2 / 5

When I read the last page of Antisocial, I really wasn’t sure how to feel about what I had just read. At all. Antisocial is a male/male romance novel that reads like a fanfiction with original characters; the characters begin as archetypes, the whole book is weirdly into Japan yet, as far as I could tell, has no Japanese characters, it’s really cutesy and then exceedingly sexual, it’s serious and deep and then all about the *power of love and friendship* (tm). Antisocial is an odd book, it’s one that I rolled my eyes at one page, awkwardly turned my Kindle off when I was on the bus another page, and then almost cried at. 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

[discussion] Books With Sport, It's More Fun Than It Might Sound


Excuse my super flash running trainers



Books With Sport




Or, I Actually Like Sport Quite A Lot, But Never Read Much About it




I realised the other day that, despite doing a fair amount of sport myself, I never find myself reading either books that are focused around sport, or even books with characters that do a lot of sport. The few that I have read, I have enjoyed. So what are these books and why have I not read more?

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Magpie's Song (IronHeart Chronicles #1), Allison Pang


"Moon Children hiding in the shadows with hollow faces and hollow futures" 
In the slums of BrightStone, Moon Children are worth less than the scrap they must collect to survive. It doesn’t matter that these abandoned half-breeds are part-Meridian with their ancestors hailing from the technologically advanced city that floats above the once-thriving, now plague-ridden BrightStone. Instead they are rejected by both their ancestral societies and forced to live on the outskirts of civilization, joining clans simply to survive. 



Nineteen-year-old Raggy Maggy is no different, despite the mysterious heart-shaped panel that covers her chest. Or at least she wasn’t… Not until her chance discovery of a Meridian-built clockwork dragon—and its murdered owner. When the Inquestors policing the city find Maggy at the scene of the crime, she quickly turns into their prime suspect. 

* * * 

3 / 5 



My first thought when reading Magpie’s Song was that it was an unnecessarily complicated book. I did get that impression from the synopsis, but thought it would become slightly clearer in the book; Magpie’s Song is a short book and could really have benefited from some more exposition. However, in all other respects, Pang’s writing is simply gorgeous. There’s this great sense of character in Maggy and a really cool dystopia and steampunk vibe.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Fireblood (Frostblood Saga #2), Elly Blake


"Should you pass," she said, "you will become a Fireblood master"

Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. 



Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fireblood queen. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, how can Ruby decide whom to trust? The fate of both kingdoms is now in her hands.

* * *
3 / 5

After my very disappointing encounter with Frostblood, I was reluctant to crack the metaphorical spine of Fireblood. But from the very first page of Fireblood I could tell that, as a writer, Blake had improved massively. The writing style was so much better! Whilst the plot was still bland and full of tropes, Ruby got a bit of spice and the writing was just so much more pleasant to read.  

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts #2), Vic James


These people. Their power. The good they could do with it, and the evil they chose instead. 

Abi Hadley is a fugitive. Her brother Luke, a prisoner. Both will discover that in the darkest places, the human spirit shines brightest.


While amid his family’s intrigues, Silyen Jardine dreams of lost powers from an earlier age. As blood runs in the streets of London, they will all discover whether love and courage can ever be stronger than tyranny.

* * * * 
4 / 5 

Tarnished City is leaps and bounds better than Gilded Cage, the first book in this series. It's more critical of power and slavery, more developed in it's exploration of morally dubious characters like Gavar and Silyen, and far more emotionally impactful. At one point I almost cried. Best of all, the "romance" between Jenner and Abi is mostly thrown out the window. This book is a wild, complicated, messy, gloriously convoluted ride and I loved it.

Friday, 1 September 2017

[article] August Round-Up


I've let my Instagram fall to the wayside this month, will do something about that!


August Round Up



August has been a funny month: great for my personal life, but not great for my reading life. I've had a big string of two and three star books, books that are okay, there's nothing really wrong with them, I just had zero interest or emotional feeling when reading. Then, right at the end of the month, I finally got some fantastic reads!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Mask of Shadows, Linsey Miller



I was what I was - what Nacea had made me, what Erlend had made me, what Our Queen had made me. There was no innocence left in this world, left in me, not after all we had done
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home. 


When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge. 



But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.
* * .5
2.5  / 5

I had very high hopes for Linsey Miller's debut novel and, on the whole, I was a little disappointed. Whilst there's intrigue, assassinations, politics, a competition (there's very little I love more than game plots - see A Gathering of Shadows), and a reasonably well-developed main character, Sallot Leon, the book feels rough. I must say that Sallot just sounds like shallot, which is not even close to be as cool a name as Sal. 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Witchtown, Cory Putman Oakes



"Welcome home!" she said grandly. I managed only a weak smile in return. Because I knew that we hadn't come to make Witchtown our home.
We had come to rob it.  
When sixteen-year-old Macie O’Sullivan and her masterfully manipulative mother Aubra arrive at the gates of Witchtown—the most famous and mysterious witch-only haven in the world—they have one goal in mind: to rob it for all it’s worth.

But that plan derails when Macie and Aubra start to dig deeper into Witchtown’s history and uncover that there is more to the quirky haven than meets the eye. Exploring the haven by herself, Macie finds that secrets are worth more than money in Witchtown. Secrets have their own power.

* * *
3 / 5

Perhaps surprisingly, I didn’t pick up Witchtown because of the witches but because it promised a heist: a mother and daughter rock up to Witchtown, a haven for witches, intending to rob it blind. There wasn’t actually much focus on said heist, instead you get witchyness, an abusive mother (who is condemned for being so), romance, and friendships. It was a good, fun book, but I thought it could have pushed a bit deeper in terms of the secondary characters and the themes.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The False Prince, Jennifer Nielsen



 "Valuable lessons were code words for pain that no one apologised for"
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together. 


* * *
3 / 5

This is the kind of book I would have loved when I was 10 – a snarky young boy who is good at sneaking around, a man with suspicious motives, and a shot for a poor orphaned boy to become a prince. In fact, I was so busy indulging my inner ten-year-old self, that it was easy to overlook the fact that the entire premise of the book, and many of the little details, was utterly absurd. Just entirely, laughably implausible.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

This Body Won't Break, Lea McKee

 
Hope is a cruel emotion. It makes you cling to it 

Orphaned as a child, Joanna has lived her entire life in the care of the New Terra Alliance. On the verge of turning eighteen, Joanna eagerly awaits her release into what remains of society. 

Joanna was never meant to leave. She is part of the August Harvest, slated to die before the month’s end. With a rogue soldier’s promise to find her a way out, Joanna dares to hope. But if the NTA finds out what she knows, it won’t only be her own life at stake, but the life of the handsome soldier who has vowed to set her free. 

* * *
3 / 5

First of all, this is not a book. It is a third of a book. I'm not a fan of authors releasing their books in sections and if I had realised that this is what Lea McKee was choosing to do, I would have waited until I could read the whole book at once. But I didn't read the summary carefully, so that's my own fault, really! Otherwise, this book had such a strong voice! I loved Joanna, it's just a shame that the plot to This Body Won't Break was so incredibly similar to another book I read recently: Body Parts.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, F. C. Yee


"I've seen people come and go over the ages," said Quentin. "And rarely, very rarely, I see them come back."
The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo's every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.


Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

* * *
3 / 5 

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was a riot. It was inventive, funny, and based in Chinese folklore and a legend I was entirely unfamiliar with. Featuring Genie Lo, an ancient reincarnated spirit in the form of a sixteen year old American girl, struggling to prepare to get into Ivy League schools whilst the demons of hell are intent on destroying her life. Oh, and there's this totally crazy boy, Quentin Sun, a new transfer student who's calling himself the Monkey King. What the heck is that all about?

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Scourge (Darkhurst #1), Gail Z. Martin


Damn Aliyev and Gorog. Damn the Guilds. Damn Toloth and the Elder Gods, and damn Ravenwood. If I can't save myself, then I will burn and the world will be my pyre

Corran, Rigan, and Kell Valmonde are Guild Undertakers, left to run their family’s business when guards murdered their father and monsters killed their mother. Their grave magic enables them to help souls pass to the After and banish vengeful spirits. Rigan’s magic is unusually strong and enables him to hear the confessions of the dead, the secrets that would otherwise be taken to the grave.

1 / 5 

It gives me no pleasure to say it, but Scourge was a tedious read. It was repetitive, I could barely differentiate between the three brothers, and I had very little emotional investment the whole way through. Whilst I did appreciate Martin's creativity with the monsters (the skin-burrowing ones really freaked me out), I wasn't a fan of Scourge.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1), Elly Blake



 "Affairs between frost and fire rarely end well"

In a land governed by the cruel Frostblood ruling class, seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has spent most of her life hiding her ability to manipulate heat and light - until the day the soldiers come to raid her village and kill her mother. Ruby vows revenge on the tyrannous Frost King responsible for the massacre of her people.



But Ruby's powers are unpredictable...and so are the feelings she has for Arcus, the scarred, mysterious Frostblood warrior who shares her goal to kill the Frost King, albeit for his own reasons. When Ruby is captured by the Frost King's men, she's taken right into the heart of the enemy. Now she only has one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who took everything from her - and in doing so, she must unleash the powers she's spent her whole life withholding.
*
1 / 5

In some ways I feel a touch sorry for YA fantasy writers; it can seem like everything has already been written. But then, just when I begin to despair, I'll find a book that takes all those expectations and reverses them, or that skips straight past cliches into fresh imagination; recently I've read Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, and Red Rising by Pierce Brown and been absolutely blown away. Frostblood, unfortunately, was not that sort of book; instead it just seemed to accumulate cliches as I turned pages, snowballing into boredom.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

One Of Us Is Lying, Karen McManus



"Unless one of us is lying. Which is always a possibility."
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he's doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.


And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won't ever talk about any of them again.



He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it's no accident. All of them are suspects.

* * * *
4 / 5 


I've been itching to get my hands on One Of Us Is Lying ever since I got denied an ARC of it on Netgalley. I was attempting to save money, but finally caved and bought it at Waterstones. One Of Us Is Lying reminded me of Pretty Little Liars: a bunch of teens with secrets and one murder. We get the points of view of each of the four main characters, who are all complex and intriguing, and the book is superbly paced.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Body Parts, Jessica Kapp


I'm angry I let my heart get caught up in the idea of having a foster family, for believing in the people who raised me
Raised in an elite foster center off the California coast, sixteen-year-old Tabitha’s been sculpted into a world-class athlete. Her trainers have told her she’ll need to be in top physical condition to be matched with a loving family, even though personal health has taken a backseat outside the training facility. 


When Tabitha’s finally paired, instead of being taken to meet her new parents, she wakes up immobile on a hospital bed. Moments before she’s sliced open, a group of renegade teenagers rescues her, and she learns the real reason for her perfect health: PharmPerfect is using her foster program as a replacement factory for their pill-addicted clients’ failing organs. 
* * *
3 / 5 

I loved the idea behind Body Parts, it reminded me of Neil Shusterman's book Unwind, which I greatly enjoyed. However, I found that this book dragged a bit in the middle where there was less action and more romance, and that as a character, Tabitha could be aggravating and make stupid decisions. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

[article] A Warrior Cats Child




This is probably not a warrior cat



A Warrior Cats Child




Or, I Was An Obsessed Child Who Became An Obsessed Adult But Now It's Less Cute




Most children go through phases of being obsessed with something, be it a sport, a video games, or a particular period of history (I was an Ancient Egypt fan), and book-loving children are no different. Popular series when I was young included Redwall, those Rainbow Magic fairy books, and Guardians of Ga'Hoole. I was absolutely and unashamedly a Warrior Cats kid. I'm not really sure if these are still a massive thing with the youth, so allow me to share this delightful and charming series with you.


Monday, 7 August 2017

S.T.A.G.S, M Bennett


It was a bit like that bit in Beauty and the Beast when the Beast dances with Belle. Except there was no Belle. And no music. And no candlelight. Just a beast.


It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin' shootin' fishin'. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.



But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry's parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports - hunting, shooting and fishing - become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school

* * *
3 / 5

I don't often read books of the thriller variety, but this one was a special treat for me, mostly because there wasn't that much actual thriller. It's got all the staples of a classic YA boarding school story: rich kids, fancy buildings, pretentious British house names, privilege, power,  and bullying, and adds a little hint of thriller. S.T.A.G.S was easy to read and had a couple of likeable, realistic main characters.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Marissa Meyer



"She was a cyborg and she would never go to a ball"
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder's brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. 

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an "honor" that no one has survived.

* * *
3 / 5

Cinder is one of those books that you are vaguely aware of and yet have never actually seen anywhere. Having recently read and enjoyed Meyer's Heartless, I decided to finally get around to hunting this book down in my local library (I had to order it in in the end), which was definitely worth it because this book is fun. It just doesn't have a whole lot of depth to it, which is why I awarded it three stars.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

[article] July Round-Up


A good reading month! I also bought these nice fake flowers for props 



July Round Up



July has been a pretty great month for me, all things considered. I started my new internship, of which I am now half way through, which is going really well. It's part time, only twenty five hours a week, so I've got lots of time to do other things - I've started running again regularly to try and keep myself fit over the summer when I'm not doing Ju Jitsu as I do during term time.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust #1), Anna Smith Spark

"This is Sorlost, the eternal, the Golden City. The most beautiful, the first, the last. The undying. The unconquered. The unconquerable.
The mummified heart of an empire of dust and desert villages, half forgotten by half the world. "
In the richest empire the world has ever known, the city of Sorlost has always stood, eternal and unconquered. But in a city of dreams governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has become the true ruler, and has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The empire is on the verge of invasion – and only one man can see it.

Haunted by dreams of the empire’s demise, Orhan Emmereth has decided to act. On his orders, a company of soldiers cross the desert to reach the city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Marching on Sorlost, Marith thinks he is running away from the past which haunts him. But in the Golden City, his destiny awaits him – beautiful, bloody, and more terrible than anyone could have foreseen.

* *
2 / 5

I read quite a few rave reviews for The Court of Broken Knives: it's a grimdark novel featuring battles and gods and guts and glory. It seemed to tout all the elements that I love in a fantasy series: drama, assassins, different factions and a cheeky bit of political skulduggery, and, most of all, epicness. Unfortunately, I didn't really get into The Court of Broken Knives. Most of it's flaws - too long, a bit verbose, weird writing style - can be attributed to being a debut novel or my own personal preference (because after Flame in the Mist I am so very done with short dramatic sentences). So maybe it was just preference, but I just was not engaged by this book.  

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor


"It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming?" 
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?

* * * * *
5 / 5 

Sometimes I'm not sure whether a book is a four or a five star; is it great or an all-time favourite sort of great? When confronted with this question I have one good, solid criteria: did I notice the page numbers flipping by? I have quite a mathematical mind - when I start a book I like to look at the back and see how many pages there are and when I read I like to calculate how far through, fraction-wise, I am (obviously Kindles make this far too easy). When reading a great book I'll notice the page numbers going up and go ahhh, 4/7 the way through, what a shame I'm getting towards the end. In an all-time favourite sort of book, I won't even notice. It's only when I set the book down that I'll take note of where I am. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

[article] Oh, The Things I Do For Book Blogging



A beautiful looking book I just haven't gotten around to reading yet



Oh, The Things I Do For Book Blogging




Or, How Six Months of Book Blogging Has Made My Life More Interesting




Today marks the sixth-month anniversary of Atlas Rising Books. I've written over a hundred book reviews,  read and reviewed 57 books for Netgalley, and generally had a super-fun time. In celebration I thought I would share a few of the little odd, weird, and wonderful things that I, and other book bloggers, do as part of the blogging experience. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman


I simply didn't know how to make things better. I couldn't solve the puzzle of me. 


Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.


But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue each other from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

* * * *
4 / 5 

I found this book quite hard to read. Definitely a change of tone and genre from the kind of book that I normally peruse, Eleanor Oliphant's synopsis intrigued me. A young woman with poor social skills, a quiet life of small routines that is changed when she and Raymond, an awkward man from work, help an elderly man who had fallen on the pavement. It's a touching, thoughtful, and overall lovely work from a debut author. 

Friday, 21 July 2017

Mountain, Ursula Pflug


"What are you," I finally asked, "a punk or a monk?"
Seventeen-year-old Camden splits her time between her father, a minor rock star, and her mom, a scruffy "hardware geek" who designs and implements temporary and sustainable power systems and satellite linkups for off-grid music and art festivals, tree-sits, and attends gatherings of alternative healers. Lark, Camden's father, provides her with brand-name jeans, running shoes, and makeup, while her mother's world is populated by anarchists, freaks, geeks, and hippies. 
Naturally, Camden prefers staying with her dad and going to the mall with his credit card and her best friend, but one summer, when Lark is recording a new album, Camden accompanies her mother, Laureen, to a healing camp on a mountain in Northern California. After their arrival, Laureen heads to San Francisco, ostensibly to go find her lover.

* * 
2 / 5

Mountain was a bit of an odd book. Or, more accurately, a novella clocking in at about 140 pages. It's about a seventeen year old girl who goes to a "healing camp", a sort of festival / commune, with her wayward mother. One day Camden's mother goes down to town in the truck and never comes back, leaving Camden alone at the camp.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Girl Off The Gird, Jillian Dodd


Life is made up of moments. Moments that define you, change you, and test you.

NYC fashion blogger, Camille Caldwell, gets offered a dream job by her favorite magazine. They’re going to send her on an all-expenses paid eco-trip to Costa Rica. She doesn’t know what that means, but she assumes she’ll wear fabulous clothes, sip PiƱa Coladas on the beach, and have her photo taken “out in nature.” Really, the hardest part of the assignment will be giving up social media while she’s gone.

Going off social media is no big deal for London-based wildlife photographer, Adam Lloyd. The only reason he even has an account is to share his photos with the world. He’s thrilled when an international publication wants to hire him, until he finds out it’s a fashion magazine. He decides to take the job anyway—after all, it will be great for his portfolio. But the minute he sees Camille, he knows it was a mistake. She has too much luggage, is too high maintenance, and way too pretty.

* * 
2 / 5 

I'm a blogger, so occasionally I read books about bloggers. With a character like Camille Caldwell, rich girl, fashion vlogger, and "anti-nature" person, I knew a book like Girl Off The Grid could either be well-researched, nuanced, and interesting, or it could be fluffy, cute with the world's most predictable romance, and Camille could be annoying as hell. I hoped for the former but got the latter; if that's your kind of book, then go you, but it wasn't mine.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Scythe, Neal Shusterman


"My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another" 
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.


Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

* * *
3 / 5 

I've been wanting to read Scythe for a while for several reasons: (a) I enjoyed Shusterman's book Unwind, (b) I love the cover of Scythe, (c) the premise sounded really, really awesome. And the start of Scythe was really, really good. In a world that has surpassed mortality, where one can turn back the biological clock and become physically twenty again, where the only people who can truly kill or "glean" are the scythes, Citra and Rowan are taken on as apprentices.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Fallen Flame, J. Miller


I lowered the one in my hands and tossed it onto another, watching my flame catch and spread over the ground, like a wave of fire, lighting it all
Nineteen years ago, on the island kingdom of Garlin, a girl was born. With charred skin as rough as rock, Vala was instantly feared. For how could one be scorched by magic when it had perished ages before? 

Recognizing an asset, the royal family welcomed her on their Guard. Her detail: the prince. To watch. To protect. She has grown with him, lives her life for him. When the high kingdom’s princess comes to assess the prince, assassins of rival courtiers come to claim his life. One nearly succeeds in his mission. But with shadowy movements and charred skin like her own, Vala knows he is not like the rest.

* * * *
4 / 5

Nineteen years ago, many years after a veil of fog went up across the ocean and magic vanished from the human lands, a girl with charred skin was born. A girl who looked like she'd been rolled in the dying embers of a fire. Vala is the Captain of the Prince's Guard, and when assassin's and courtiers land on Garlin Island, the action and intrigue in Fallen Flame really shine.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

[article] How To Rate Books?


A rainbow of excellent (and not so excellent) books



How To Rate Books?



Or, Uh I Dunno It Was Kinda Good So 3 Stars I Guess




You might notice that this article is a question rather than a statement. That's because I don't really know, exactly, how to rate books and in my almost six months of book blogging, I think I've uncovered a little secret: no one does. You, like me, might have been fooled by those reviewers that put on their  blogs or Goodreads profiles those little "ratings guides" that look a little like this:

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon

She nodded and smiled. "Works for me." And Rishi, gods help him, thought, I could look at that smile every day and never get tired of it 

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? 



Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. 

* * * 
3 / 5 

When Dimple Met Rishi is a romance, pure and simple. Dimple and Rishi are both going to a summer program for aspiring coders and app developers, but for different reasons. Dimple wants to code, to build towards her future career. Rishi wants to go and meet his future wife, Dimple; their parents have been arranging their courtship for years. This book is funny and sweet and excellently diverse, but it also has pacing issues and I found the romance stifling at points.