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 



June 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. 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Flame In The Mist, Renee Ahdieh


Perhaps the forest simply knew this was where someone like Mariko - a lost girl in search of a place to call home - could plant roots and flourish
At just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. 

* * * 
3 / 5

Flame In The Mist is the latest book by the author of The Wrath and The Dawn, which I really enjoyed and do recommend. This book is very loosely a Mulan retelling in which Mariko, daughter of a noble house, is attacked by bandits on her way to marry the second in line to the emperor's throne. Lost in a creepy forest, Mariko cannot return home in shame and so endeavours to infiltrate the Black Clan, who she believes is responsible for her attempted murder. 

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Hundredth Queen, Emily King


Anything can be changed by those who have the courage to blaze their own path
As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

* * * .5
3.5 / 5

The Hundredth Queen had a strong opening: Kalinda is at mountain temple that raises young girls; in exchange for funding, any nobleman may visit the Sisterhood temple and choose a young woman to be a servant, courtesan, or wife. When Rajah Tarek arrives at the temple to choose his hundredth wife, Kalinda is shocked to be chosen; she had been hoping to be passed on by, free to devote her life to the Sisterhood and the gods. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Orchid Caper, Connie Dowell


Midterms were a terrible time to begin planning a heist, but honestly, would there ever be a good one?
A down-on-her luck burglar, a trust fund college kid with something to prove. Will they outfox a master thief?


All eighteen-year-old Darlene wants is to rob the joint. College guy Ian comes home too soon. And some ill-timed flatulence brings them together. Darlene thinks she’s toast. Instead Ian gives her a job offer, leading a heist team to steal a rare species of vanilla orchid. Only catch, she’s swiping from one of the best thieves in the biz.

* * 
2 / 5

My biggest problem with The Orchid Caper was that it was marketed as a YA novel when it would have done much better as a children's novel, I think, due to the rather simplistic plot. It's a YA group heist novel focused around Ian, who's trying to get a one-up on his brother by stealing something of value to him, who recruits Darlene after she unsuccessfully tries to burgle his house. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Trial By Fire, Lore Graham


Nothing captures the human imagination more than apocalypse, the end of times 
All Elena wants to do in join the Hollywood Heroes, meet her compatriots, and slowly get into the swing of saving the world. What she gets instead is Consequence, who took out a full-page ad in the LA Times threatening to bring about an apocalypse.


Between villainous masterminds, her fellow heroes, and her attraction to group leader Lacy, Elena is going to have to learn fast how to be a Hollywood Hero or the only thing she'll have to worry about is how to survive a post-apocalyptic world. 


1 / 5

I hadn't realised that this was a novella when I downloaded it, otherwise I would have given Trial By Fire a miss. So part of my dislike of this book was it's not you, it's me. Everything felt rushed: the explanations, the romance, the character building, the antagonist. I didn't feel like most of it made much sense and the book had a confused tone: the writing and plot were suitable for a children's novel, but there were two very explicit sex scenes.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

[article] June Round-Up


Normally I take a photo of all the books I read this month, but 
unfortunately I had to return a lot to the library, so here's a pretty
picture instead



June Round Up



June has been a good month for me: I've been home, done lots of reading, and had the details of my summer internship confirmed, which I'm very much excited about. After a month off of university I'm ready to get some daily structure back into my life! 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Sucktown, Alaska, Craig Dirkes


That was the only way in - by plane. No roads connected Kusko to Anchorage, or to anywhere in civilisation.  That idea - the remoteness of the place - intrigued me. 
Freshman year, Eddie Ashford had it all. Friends, parties, Taco Bell. He enjoyed it, reveled in it even. And he flunked out. Now he wants to redeem himself. Has to. He takes a job in tiny Kusko, Alaska, and promises to stay a year. His intentions are pure, but soon he’s lonely, low on cash, and desperate to escape the tundra. 
* * .5
2.5 / 5

Eddie Ashford failed the first semester of university. In order to redeem himself in the eyes of the university admissions department, he takes up a job working for the Delta Patriot, a paper published in the tiny town of Kusko in rural Alaska. It's a coming of age sort of story and prominently considers drugs and rural life. I couldn't stand the main character, Eddie, but I loved the setting and all the details about what life is like in a place as wild as the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Mightier Than The Sword, K. J. Parker


"Will you shut the fuck up about politics," I said.
An Imperial legate is called into see his aunt, who just happens to be the empress running the civilized world while her husband's in his sick bed. After some chastisement, she dispatches her nephew to take care of the dreaded Land and Sea Raiders, pirates who've been attacking the realm's monasteries.


So begins a possibly doomed tour of banished relatives and uppity royals put in charge of monasteries like Cort Doce and Cort Maleston, to name a few. While attempting to discover the truth of what the pirates might be after, the legate visits great libraries and halls in each varied locale and conducts a romance of which he knows - but doesn't care - his aunt will not approve. 

* * * *
4 / 5 

It is so very rare that I find a good novella that I actually enjoy; Mightier Than The Sword was one of these. I picked it up almost solely because of the cover, not realising that it was a novella and not really knowing what it was about. This tale with an unnamed narrator, an empress of an aunt, monks, and political skulduggery was an excellent quick read.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

[article] Five Popular Books I Felt Ambivalent About



Five Popular Books I Felt Ambivalent About



Or, The Hype Fails Me Spectacularly



I reckon everyone knows what it is like to have the book hype fail you. That novel that's been plastered all over your Goodreads feed for weeks, that all your friends are raving about turns out to have boring main characters, a glaring love triangle, it's saturated with purple prose and terrible metaphors, or it's just flat out boring. Whatever the reason, you try this massively popular book and just think Jesus, I have massively missed something because man, this is terrible.

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting, Holly Bourne


I need to be interesting, Logan, I need to be someone
Bree is a loser, a wannabe author who hides behind words. Most of the time she hates her life, her school, her never-there parents. So she writes.

But when she’s told she needs to start living a life worth writing about, The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting is born. Six steps on how to be interesting. Six steps that will see her infiltrate the popular set, fall in love with someone forbidden and make the biggest mistake of her life.

1 / 5 

My secondary school years a couple of years behind me now, but looking back I feel like I had a fairly typical experience: a small group of close friends, studied hard, mostly enjoyed myself. The worst age was probably fourteen to about sixteen where I was gangly and socially awkward. A couple of boys were mean to me, but I wouldn't say I was bullied. In Sixth Form, aged sixteen to eighteen, I had an amazing time. Not so for Bree.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The One (The Selection #3), Kiera Cass


"This isn't happily every after. It's so much more than that"
When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants. 

* * 
2 / 5

The One is the best of The Selection trilogy. There's more action and rebels, and though the ending was a bit too fairy-tale, I did like it. However, there's still that pesky love triangle hanging around and the moment I put the book down, I could recall absolutely nothing that happened in the middle of the book. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Elf Warfare, Chris Pramas


This book compiles all of the information known about these elegant warriors and how they practice war. From an initial examination of the fighting methods of the individual Elf warrior, it goes on to reveal how they do battle in small companies and vast armies. It covers all of their troop types--from their famed bowmen and swordmasters to their lightning-fast cavalry--making special note of regional variations and highly specialized fighters such as war mages.
* * *
3 / 5

This book is intended, I believe, as a sort of supplement to various tabletop and roleplaying games, to add a bit of flavour to their interpretation of Elves. As I don't play these sorts of games, I was mostly interested in Elf Warfare because it promised lovely illustrations and I was not disappointed. 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Resurrection (Skulduggery Pleasant #10), Derek Landy


This is how I'm going to die, she'd realised. On my knees
Skulduggery and Valkyrie are going to team up with beloved characters from the first 9 books as well as an all-new cast, including new teen co-star Omen Darkly, for an adventure that takes the story to truly global proportions… while answering questions that go right back to the beginning.

* * * * 
4 / 5 

I didn't expect for there to be a tenth book to the series, but I am very glad that there is. I think it has quite a different vibe to the previous few books and it's lacking a few old favourites (like Tanith or Scapegrace), but I did enjoy Resurrection. Whilst the plot isn't that great, maybe on par with Dark Days or one of the earliest books, it's made up for by a much more mature consideration of Skulduggery and Valkyrie.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

[article] Five Books I Mistakenly Thought I'd Love




Five Books I Mistakenly Thought I'd Love



Or, I seriously do not know my own tastes. Sometimes I disappoint myself


There's always those books, you know the ones. The covers are enticing, the blurb sounds great, the reviews on Goodreads are glowing, and you think that, even if this book isn't the one, it'll be pretty wonderful. Then, you actually read it and wonder what on earth you were thinking and are astounded at the power of marketing.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club #1), Holly Bourne


Being a woman, in this world, ultimately makes you crazy
All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…


But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

* * * *
4 / 5

I was tentative about reading Am I Normal Yet? because I'd recently read Under Rose-Tainted Skies, another book with a main character with OCD and a heavy romance focus, and hadn't really enjoyed it. Fortunately, I enjoyed Am I Normal Yet? a heck of a lot more. It's thoughtful and happy and very teen girl, but also serious and made me cry. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

More of Me, Kathryn Evans


I have grown in strength inside her. Filled her cells with mine until we must split apart. It's not my choice - that's how it's always been for us. 

Teva goes to school, studies for her exams, and spends time with her friends. To the rest of the world, she’s a normal teenager. But when she goes home, she’s anything but normal. Due to a genetic abnormality, Teva unwillingly clones herself every year. And lately, home has become a battleground. When boys are at stake, friends are lost, and lives are snatched away, Teva has a fight on her hands—a fight with herself. 
As her birthday rolls around, Teva is all too aware that time is running out. She knows that the next clone will soon seize everything she holds dear. Desperate to hang on to her life, Teva decides to find out more about her past . . . and uncovers lies that could either destroy her or set her free.

* * 
2 / 5

More of Me is based on a pretty unique concept. Every year, Teva splits in two. The old Teva, the one who keeps the proper memories and consciousness, stays at the same age whilst the new Teva adopts her life, going to school and picking up old Teva's friends and boyfriend. Our Teva is sixteen and she refuses to let go of her life. She doesn't want to lose her life, her boyfriend, her future career to the self growing under her skin, and she'll do anything to stop her breaking out. 

Friday, 9 June 2017

The Hidden Oracle (Trials of Apollo #1), Rick Riordan

"Yep, that pretty much describes my life: because Poseidon"
How do you punish an immortal? By making him human.


After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.
* * 
2 / 5

The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle is a new series set in the world of Percy Jackson. Whilst you probably don't need to read the other books to understand this one, I would probably recommend it, due to the number of references and reappearing characters. This book is easy to read and young teenagers will most likely enjoy it, but the narrating voice is terrible and the plot overly predictable.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

[article] Five ARCs I Was Thrilled To Get


Featuring my beautiful heather plant that has since died an ignominious death 




Five ARCs I Was Thrilled To Get



Or, Five Books That I Put My Grubby Hands All Over Instantly


The general advice from the seasoned ARC receiving and reviewing community is to only request books that you would actually buy. This is good advice. Unfortunately, I don't always follow it (but I do always read all of my ARCs!) and just request books that look kinda cool or just interesting. So, sometimes, when that approval email comes through my reaction is a bit oh that's nice

Monday, 5 June 2017

The Hush, Skye Melki-Wegner


This was the Hush. Its rain was not water, but shadow: a rain of leftover sorcery
Chester has taken to the road, traveling from village to village desperately searching for his father, who has disappeared. One night while fiddling to earn a few coins, he accidentally connects to the Song—the music that fuels every aspect of the world, and that it’s illegal for him to interact with. He’s caught and sentenced to death for his crime. Only a licensed Songshaper can bend music to his will. 
Susanna, the Captain of the Nightfall Gang has been watching Chester. She needs him to pull off an elaborate plan that will take down the governing body that keeps her an outlaw and made her the fragment she is. Susanna needs him to exact her revenge, even if he dies doing it.  

* * * * .5
4.5 / 5 

There are two things that I loved about The Hush: first, it's essentially a group teen heist novel (think more YA Six of Crows), which I didn't know when I picked it up, and secondly, the idea of the Song, Music, and the Hush is super cool. This book was fantastic and, though it is a standalone, I hope Melki-Wegner returns to write more in this universe.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Mary Weber


The ice-planet arrived in the dusky heat of summer twilight
Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi's dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth's corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth's Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi's the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she's convinced he's been taken to the ice-planet.

* * *
3 / 5

This was a peculiar read. It's sort of about a combative game but then it's about mysterious aliens, a missing brother, weird politics, and some all around general skulduggery. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow is part mystery, part action, and part confusion. Whilst it could have done with some trimming down and clarification, it's a genuinely enjoyable read with a few solid twists. 

Friday, 2 June 2017

Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga #2), Kiersten White


She was not a lady. She was a dragon and this whole country would know it before the end. 
Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. 
What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing.  

* * * *
4 / 5 


And I Darken was one of my favourite reads of 2016 and, as such, I had very high hopes for Now I Rise. Whilst it is an excellent book with two excellent and engaging main characters, Lada and Radu, I found Radu's sections to be longer and less interesting than Lada's. The book suffered a touch from "middle book syndrome", but overall I absolutely enjoyed this. Also the cover (US edition, I think) is one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

[article] May Round-Up


Another terrible picture effort from my Instagram



May Round Up



May has been a funny month. It's been really good in terms of books and not so great in terms of my personal life. I've just finished sitting my end of second year exams which was stressful enough (two of them went quite well, the other one was a trainwreck), but not one day after I finish I came down with (and still have) a horrendous cold. I had planned to celebrate the end of exams by having a few drinks and tackling my TBR pile. Alas, my head is too fuzzy to stand alcohol or read.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Elite (The Selection #2), Kiera Cass


"I pranced around the room like a blind moose"
The Selection began with thirty-five girls. Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?


America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.
* .5
1.5 / 5

In some ways, The Elite was better than The Selection, in other ways it was much worse. If you enjoyed The Selection, then you'll probably like this one too, I imagine. If you're asking why I read and am reviewing The Elite when I did not enjoy The Selection, it's because I ordered the whole trilogy through the library, so I thought I might as well read the whole lot, considering how short they are.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Release, Patrick Ness


Can I love? he thought. Can I? Can I be loved?
Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.
* * * *
4 / 5 


Release, like every other Patrick Ness book I've read, and I've read four or five, is beautiful, poignant, sad, and really, really, really, weird. There's two overlapping stories here; the first is an excellent one focusing on Adam Thorn, the very gay son of very religious parents who is counting down the days until he can leave home, and the second is some sort of bizarre fairy tale type involving a Queen, the spirit of a murdered girl, and a faun.