Saturday 30 December 2017

Everless (#1), Sara Holland

I have a sense the whole world is coming to an end, collapsing into that single moment
In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries. No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself. 
* * * 
3 / 5 

Everless is about a young teenage girl who loves her father with whom she lives in poverty, occasionally venturing into the woods to hunt to earn some extra money. Sound familiar? By changing a couple of words I could be describing The Hunger Games, Red Queen, A Court of Thorns and Roses, or many other books based on a similar premise. What makes Everless stand out is a really cool premise: time is currency, extracted and bleed from an individual to turn into a coin. To pay off one's debts, one flirts with death as they bleed away their future. Literally.

Wednesday 27 December 2017

The Last Namsara (Iskari #1), Kristen Ciccarelli

"Asha wore her scar like a crown"
In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer. These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

* * * * 
4 / 5

The Last Namsara grabbed me from the first scene: Asha calls a dragon forth with a forbidden story and slays it, bringing it's head home to her father, the king. Any good book could probably get better with the addition of dragons, but it's hard to get a fresh perspective on them, though a few have managed it - Seraphina springs to mind. The Last Namsara manages it. It has a couple of flaws, but is overall a stunning debut novel and I can't wait to snag the sequel. 

Sunday 24 December 2017

Wolf By Wolf (Wolf By Wolf #1), Ryan Graudin

The wolves of war are gathering. They sing a song of rotten bones
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. 
* * * *
4 / 5 

Having devoured and thoroughly enjoyed Graudin's most recent masterpiece - Invictus - I finally got around to picking this one up. The synopsis is interesting: Hitler won the war, there's a motorcycle race, and a young shape-shifting Jewish girl who wants to kill Hitler. Once again, I'm reminded of a Doctor Who episode (perhaps this is where Graudin gets her inspiration?), but surprisingly all these weird elements combine really well into a cracker of a book.

Thursday 21 December 2017

The Female of the Species, Mindy McGinnis

"I am vengeance"
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.

Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence.  Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.

* * * *
4 / 5

I've never read anything quite like The Female of the Species. It's bold, it's dark, it's unafraid to explore themes like justice, vengeance, sexuality, power, and violence. Alex Craft killed a man and she doesn't regret it. When the murderer and rapist of her older sister walked free, Alex took vengeance into her own hands but now she's afraid that she'll never quite fit into society, that it's safer to remain in this small town with her alcoholic mother for the rest of her life.

Monday 18 December 2017

Mandelbrot the Magnificent, Liz Ziemska

"Logic sometimes makes monsters"
Born in the Warsaw ghetto and growing up in France during the rise of Hitler, Benoit Mandelbrot found escape from the cruelties of the world around him through mathematics. Logic sometimes makes monsters, and Mandelbrot began hunting monsters at an early age. Drawn into the infinite promulgations of formulae, he sinks into secret dimensions and unknown wonders.

His gifts do not make his life easier, however. As the Nazis give up the pretense of puppet government in Vichy France, the jealousy of Mandelbrot's classmates leads to denunciation and disaster. The young mathematician must save his family with the secret spaces he's discovered, or his genius will destroy them.

* * * 
3 / 5

Occasionally I will dive into a biography of a philosopher or a mathematician. When I do, I like to get a feel for the real person - perhaps via the inclusion of letters that they wrote, or excerpts from interviews, or real conversations - but to also get a sense of the feelings of the author. Mandelbrot the Magnificent was peculiar; it was an easy, engaging read, but I was never quite sure what was truth and fact and what was embellishment on the part of Ziemska.

Friday 15 December 2017

[article] End of Year, Finish the Books!

End of Year, Finish the Books!

Or, Impending Sense of Doom as You Realise You Never Did the Things You Wanted To

As the year draws to a close we always think of the things we haven't done rather the things that we have. I'm no exception. Whilst my reading year has been pretty damn awesome - I've read 170 books this year, absolutely smashing my previous record - they're are a number of books that I've meant to read all year, but never got around to.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

The Rogue Queen (The Hundredth Queen #3), Emily R. King

"I am born of the stars, and I will see them shine again"
Despite the odds, Kalinda has survived it all: Marriage to a tyrant. Tournaments to the death. The forbidden power to rule fire. The icy touch of a demon. That same demon now disguises itself as Rajah Tarek, Kalinda’s late husband and a man who has never stopped haunting her. Upon taking control of the palace and the army, the demon brands Kalinda and her companions as traitors to the empire. They flee across the sea, seeking haven in the Southern Isles.

In Lestari, Kalinda’s powers are not condemned, as they are in her land. To take back the empire, Kalinda will ally with those she distrusts—and risk losing those most loyal to her—to defeat the demon and bring peace to a divided nation.

* * 
2 / 5 

The Rogue Queen does better than the second book; it has moved beyond the "tournament" style plotline of the first two books and tries to tackle a more "epic war" plotline between three opposing forces: Kalinda and her allies, the demon disguised as Rajah Tarek, and the bhuta rebels. I didn't find it particularly interesting, but the pacing, characters, and writing are all generally better than in The Fire Queen. 

Sunday 10 December 2017

[article] Christmas Books

Christmas tiiiime, mistletoe and boooooks

Christmas Books

Or, Cold Makes Me Want To Curl Up With A Good Book

Now, this article isn't quite what you think it's gonna be. I was going to talk about my favourite novels that prominently feature Christmas in them, but being mainly a devourer of fantasy and sci-fi novels, such a list would go:

  • The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis

Hmm. That wouldn't be a very long article! Whilst I do thoroughly recommend the entire Narnia series (if you haven't read it, you definitely should!), that's not exactly article material. So instead, I'm going to write about books I love to read around Christmas, or books that I associate with Christmas. 

Thursday 7 December 2017

The Fire Queen (The Hundredth Queen #2), Emily R. King

"I made myself a champion. I won't make the same mistake twice"
Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over.  Kalinda has the allegiance of Captain Deven Naik, her guard and beloved, imprisoned for treason and stripped of command. With the empire at war, their best hope is to find Prince Ashwin, the rajah’s son, who has promised Deven’s freedom on one condition: that Kalinda will fight and defeat three formidable opponents.

With both the responsibility to protect her people and the fate of those she loves weighing heavily upon her, Kalinda is forced again to compete. She must test the limits of her fire powers and her hard-won wisdom. But will that be enough to unite the empire without sacrificing all she holds dear?

1 / 5

Without being facetious, the best thing about this book is the cover. It's lovely! Everything else ... meh. I felt the same way after finishing this book as I did after finishing Frostblood: like I've just read several hundred pages where, technically, lots of stuff is going on, but I just didn't care about any of it and now feel a bit weird. I had virtually zero emotional reaction to anything in this book, which is weird and unfortunate because I rather enjoyed The Hundredth Queen. 

Monday 4 December 2017

Ruined (Ruined #1), Amy Tintera

“I certainly have never had to pretend to be weak. But your mother is right. There's a benefit to being underestimated.”
Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. To find Olivia, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

* * *
3 / 5 

Ruined has a lot of classic fantasy tropes: warrior girl, dead parents, sisterly love, revenge plot, oppressed magical people, enemies to friends to maybe-lovers; the list goes on. This isn't necessarily bad, in fact Ruined was quite a fun read, but it's certainly nothing new. It's got some decent writing, a decent main character, and some moral nuances, but most importantly, lots of stabbing. It's definitely a better book than the synopsis suggests...

Friday 1 December 2017

[article] November Round-Up

So I finally read a Ryan Graudin book - just not the one I've owned for a year...

November Round Up

Despite my claim last month, November has become the month where I have read the least books this year! This month I have read a grand total of five books + around forty articles for my philosophy coursework. The good news is that I absolutely smashed the coursework, so now I can get back into a set of a good books. But besides being busy, I've also just been in a general book slump - at the moment I am slogging my way through The Rogue Queen, the last book in The Hundredth Queen trilogy by Emily King, and it's taking me a while - and so I've been channeling lots of my usual reading time into running.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Autoboyography, Christina Lauren

His smile ruins me
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. When his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him. 

* * * * 
4 / 5 

A sweet and heartbreaking gay romance novel with a cleve titular pun, Autoboyography delves into two things quite unfamiliar to me: rural America and the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, the most prominent branch of Mormonism. 

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Invictus, Ryan Graudin

He wanted to meet history face-to-face. He wanted to be the blood in its veins, as it was in his
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past. 

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. History is not as steady as it seems

* * * * *
5 / 5

After I read the synopsis of Invictus I was very strongly reminded of a Doctor Who plot - you know the one with Eleventh Doctor and the ginger girl's boyfriend (Rory?) who becomes a Roman soldier and waits through time. Invictus is kind of like that. The similarities being time travel, Romans, a boy, a spaceship, and that I absolutely adored both of them! Invictus is an absolute gem of a novel from the rag-tag heist-committing crew to the cover. 

Sunday 19 November 2017

Eyes Like Those (Seven Shores #1), Melissa Brayden

Isabel Chase was right where she was supposed to be
Isabel Chase is reeling. She’s just been offered her dream job as a staff writer on one of the hottest shows on television and quickly trades in the comfort of New England for sun, sand, and everything Hollywood. While stoked for what could be her big break, the show’s stunning executive producer has her head spinning and her feelings swirling. 

Taylor Andrews is at the top of her career. Everything she touches turns to gold and the studios know it. Just when she’s on track for total television domination, Isabel Chase arrives in her office and slowly turns her world upside down. Unfortunately, she’s the one person that can take away all Taylor has worked for. 

* * * 
3 / 5 

Ever since devouring Brayden's last novel Strawberry Summer I've been itching to get my grubby little book-hands on anything else by her. Eyes Like Those is sweet, sexy, and the two main character's have a lot of chemistry, but I found the plot a bit lacking in originality and it just didn't draw me in the way Strawberry Summer did.

Thursday 16 November 2017

Nothing, Annie Barrows

I have no individuality. I'm a prisoner of my context
Nothing ever happens to Charlotte and Frankie. Their lives are nothing like the lives of the girls they read about in their YA novels. They just go to high school and live at home with their parents, who are pretty normal, all things considered. But when Charlotte decides to write down everything that happens during their sophomore year to prove that nothing happens and there is no plot or character development in real life, she’s surprised to find that being fifteen isn’t as boring as she thought. It’s weird, heartbreaking, silly, and complicated. And maybe, just perfect.
1 / 5

When you pick up a book entitled "Nothing", which on the back proclaims to be about two girls to whom nothing ever happens, you probably ought not to be too upset when that's exactly what you get: a book about nothing. It's not like it was trying to hide it, right? But when I put this book down, I was still a bit disappointed to reflect and realise that that was exactly what I had got.

Monday 13 November 2017

Wayfarers #1 & #2, Becky Chambers

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

* * * * *
5 / 5

This is a combined review of Becky Chamber's "the long way to a small angry planet" and "a closed and common orbit"; they are both beautiful, charming, well-written and unique space operas. They also have covers that are to die for! I don't read as much sci-fi as I used to, but these books pulled me straight back in and are exactly the kind of read that I adore.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Beasts Made of Night, Tochi Onyebuchi

Sins weigh us down, and if you carry them with you past death, the earth and the sky both will reject you
In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt. 

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life. 
* * 
2 / 5 

Beasts Made of Night has been on my radar for a couple of months because it sounded fantastic: sin taking form as beasts, a young man whose job is to devour the sins of others, a dark conspiracy, and the cover is gorgeous. I love a dark, intriguing, conspiracy-laden fantasy novel from time to time, but unfortunately Beasts Made of Night but the writing was lacklustre at best and nobody other than the main character had any, well, character.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart

she didn't know if she could love her own mangled, strange heart
The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. A bad romance, or maybe three.

A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was

* * * * 
4 / 5 

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I cracked open Genuine Fraud. I haven't read Lockhart's other well received book, We Were Liars, and I haven't read many thrillers or mystery novels. But I was very impressed by Genuine Fraud - it was short, a light 250 pages, and so didn't drag unnecessarily on, it packed a punch, had some weird twists, and really made me work for it. This is not an easy read - my brain really had to work to make sense of what was going on - but it was so worth it.

Sunday 5 November 2017

If My Dogs Were A Pair of Middle-Aged Men, Matthew Inman

In If My Dogs Were a Pair of Middle-Aged Men, Matthew Inman imagines, to hilarious effect, what life would be like if his dogs were a couple of old men running around his house. The result is a pitch-perfect gift for any dog owner.

* * *
3 / 5

This is going to be a pretty short review, as there's not a whole lot to say about a book that's only 38 pages long! It literally took me a few minutes to read and the content got pretty old fast - it's your typical dog-related humour comics but replacing the dogs with two middle aged men. Yeah, it's kind of innovative and funny at first, but then looking at drawings of middle-aged men licking each other's butts is a bit bizarre. 

Friday 3 November 2017

All the Crooked Saints, Maggie Stiefvater

Night fell, and the stars sauntered out. Night fell, and the owls opened their eyes 
Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

* * * 
3 / 5

If I could only say one think about All the Crooked Saints it would be that the language was beautiful. Sumptuous. Divine. It was entrancing and enlightening and so very in tone with the magical and bizarre plot, the very same plot that unfortunately let this book down for me. A book can be gorgeously written, with a plethora of great characters, and some strong messages and themes, but if nothing really happens then my interest is going to wane.  

Wednesday 1 November 2017

[article] October Round-Up

These books have been on my TBR for at least three months. Shameful!

October Round Up

This month I've spent a lot of time reading long and sometimes dry academic articles in preparation for my first big coursework assignment of the year. It's actually quite an interesting area, on environmental ethics and particularly focusing on Aldo Leopold (if anyone here knows their environmental philosophy...), but it does drain your desire to read much else! I think October might be the month where I have read the least books this year, but that's okay :)

Sunday 29 October 2017

Warcross (Warcross #1), Marie Lu

"I'm going to win this time"
For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. 

* * * * 
4 / 5 

When I was a young teenager I loved the manga 1/2 Prince and then, when I was a little older, I devoured the novelised version of Sword Art Online (SAO). These fostered a love of the idea of a virtual reality, and more specifically of a virtual MMO. Warcross, the titular game, is a peculiar mixture of virtual reality and augmented reality, and is more of a League of Legends type game, but it is based on that same idea that I loved when I was twelve and it was that which made me want to read Warcross.

Friday 27 October 2017

Random Illustrated Facts, Mike Lowery

A collection of illustrated trivia unlike any other. From glow-in-the-dark cats to Jupiter's diamond showers to the link between dancing goats and the discovery of coffee, here are up to 100 obscure and fascinating facts brought to life in Mike Lowery's quirky, hilarious style. Each illustrated fact is paired with a handwritten web of related tidbits, recreating an entertaining dive down a trivia rabbit hole.

* * * *
4 / 5 

This is an excellent coffee-table sort of book, cram packed with vibrant illustrations and weird and wonderful facts. It's approximately 200 pages long and each page has at least one, but often multiple, fun facts based around a theme. Random Illustrated Facts would make a great gift, but it isn't the kind of thing that I would normally just buy for myself.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1), Evelyn Skye

Do you believe in what you cannot see?
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. The tsar initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her. And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

* * * *
4 / 5 

With The Crown's Game, I did something unusually out of character for me: I eagerly picked up a book that I knew, for a fact, had a love triangle in it. I knew this because it says it on the back. I did this because The Crown's Game promised magic, a game to the death, folklore, and a killer setting, and boy did it deliver on most of these points. 

Monday 23 October 2017

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicles #2), Jay Kristoff

the storm begs no forgiveness of the drowned 
Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church hierarchy think she’s far from earned it. After a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia suspicions about the Red Church’s true motives begin to grow.

When it’s announced that Scaeva will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end him. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between love and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

* * * *
4 / 5

I finished Nevernight, a thoroughly enjoyable read though by no means perfect, and eagerly went straight on to read Godsgrave. Unfortunately, it was a Kindle copy so the footnotes that I loved in the first book became an annoyance in the second (seriously, get a physical copy, so much more worth it), but mostly what threw me was the plot direction that the synopsis was suggesting: Mia has just trained to become a fully fledged assassin, and all of a sudden we are getting gladiators! Colosseums! A new romance! What the heck! It sounded weird and it was weird, but it actually worked surprisingly well. 

Friday 20 October 2017

[article] Beauty Is In The Eye of the Book-Holder

I simply adore these books

Beauty Is In The Eye of the Book-Holder

Or, I Examine Gorgeous and Sinful Book Covers

One of the pleasures in my, admittedly slightly sad life, is getting my hands on a book, or even better an entire book series, with a gorgeous cover. I find that most books have simply "fine" covers, that never elicit any particular emotion from me, but some are simply stunning. So beautiful, in fact, that I might own a book that is actually terrible in several different forms, just because the cover is great (Throne of Glass, I'm looking at you. The whole series looks great on my shelf, but I've never managed to struggle beyond the first). 

Wednesday 18 October 2017

I Hate Everyone But You, Gaby Dunn

then last night he CALLED me and asked me to come over to "talk". I assumed this was a thinly veiled booty call but was lonely so agreed
So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

* * 
2 / 5 

With a title like "i hate everyone but you" I was concerned that I was going to get a very hipster and "edgy" read aimed at thirteen year olds. I Hate Everyone But You is a very much older teenager book and is cram packed with sex, drugs, and unhealthy relationships; it also doesn't really have much going in terms of plot. This classic tale of going away to university and friendship was hilarious and relatable at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that neither of our two main characters, Eva and Gen, are particularly likeable and the book becomes rather preachy. 

Sunday 15 October 2017

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1), Jay Kristoff

"The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow"
Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death. Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student. The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

* * * *
4 / 5

I resisted picking up Nevernight for a goodly while, mostly because I when I had heard about it I had just finished savouring the experience that is Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, and the two sounded goodly similar: a young girl, trained as an assassin; some kind of vengeance in the works; a creative kind of universe; but mostly it was the very young girl trained at a school for assassins part. Nevernight, thankfully, beyond the premise, is not really like Red Sister; it truly is a book of its own, sometimes one that annoyed and frustrated me, sometimes one that made me laugh and cry and swear. 

Friday 13 October 2017

Solitaire, Alice Oseman

"It's not a midlife crisis. It's just a life crisis."
My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden. I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden. I really don’t.

1 / 5

Part of me doesn't even believe that Solitaire was written by the same author as Radio Silence, a book which I loved and gave five stars. Solitaire was Oseman's debut novel and man, it really shows; from the cringeworthy tagline "this is not a love story..." to cringeworthy main character who is a self-described introverted pessimist who hates "the fakers" and "doesn't care about anything" to the predictable plot, Solitaire is a rough read. I thoroughly recommend that readers avoid this one entirely and go and pick up Radio Silence, a much more impressive book that works along similar themes and has an introverted blog-loving main character.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Shadowblack (Spellslinger #2), Sebastian de Castell

"Look at all of those stars. Why'd you need to pick just one to follow?"
It's a few months since Kellen left his people behind. Now aged sixteen, Kellen is an outlaw, relying on his wits to keep him alive in the land of the Seven Sands. He misses home, he misses family and more than anything, he misses Nephenia, the girl he left behind. 

Then he meets Seneira, a blindfolded girl who isn't blind, and who carries a secret that's all too familiar to Kellen. Kellen and Ferius resolve to help - but the stakes are far higher than they realise. A Shadowblack plague is taking hold - and Kellen can't help but suspect his own people may even be behind it. 

* * *
3 / 5

This book reminded me of a TV episode: a small contained plot that didn't really move along the main story arc, but that was still fun and had the great original characters, but also added some new side ones I didn't really care about and vanished at the end. Shadowblack has Kellen, Reichis, and Ferius from Spellslinger and is focused around the sudden spread of the shadowblack plague in the Seven Sands. 

Saturday 7 October 2017

Sorcery for Beginners (Codex Arcanum #1), Matt Harry

"We conversed for five minutes; now you wish for me to explain the meaning of your life? I am a bookseller."
Five-hundred years ago, magic began to fade from the world. Combustion engines and computers took the place of enchanted plows and spell books. Sorcerers were hunted almost to extinction. Science became the primary system of belief, and the secrets of spell-casting were forgotten ... until now.  
Written by arcane arts preservationist and elite mage Euphemia Whitmore (along with her ordinary civilian aide Matt Harry), Sorcery for Beginners is the true how-to manual for returning magic to an uninspired world. It's also the story of Owen Macready, a seemingly average 13-year-old who finds himself drawn into a centuries-long secret war when he uses this book to take on a school bully. But when Owen's spell casting draws the attention of a ruthless millionaire and a secret society of anti-magic mercenaries, he must decide how much he's willing to risk to keep magic alive in the world.

* * * 
3 / 5 

I always try to switch my reading genres up, to keep me on my toes. So I decided it was time for a more fun, children's novel. I was a big fan of Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series and Cresswell's How To Train A Dragon books, and Sorcery for Beginners looked like it provided a mix of the teenager's-journery-to-becoming-competant-ranger/magician and fun illustrations. This book makes fantastic use of layout but it drags on a bit too long and the ending is rather unsatisfying. 

Thursday 5 October 2017

Satellite, Nick Lake

spinning around the earth, endlessly. an orbit of devotion. nothing in the universe loves like the moon loves the earth.

Born and raised on Moon 2, Leo and the twins, Orion and Libra, are finally old enough and strong enough to endure the dangerous trip to Earth. They’ve been “parented” by teams of astronauts since birth and have run countless drills to ready themselves for every conceivable difficulty they might face on the flight.

But has anything really prepared them for life on terra firma? Because while the planet may be home to billions of people, living there is more treacherous than Leo and his friends could ever have imagined, and their very survival will mean defying impossible odds

* * * * *
5 / 5 

I don't really watch space films and I don't really read space books. But something about Satellite just said read me, read me and so, naturally, I obliged and I'm so glad that I did. This book was so raw and emotional and sort of made me want to go into space (although I'm sure it would make me puke my guts up, so maybe just one of those 0g chambers...), and Leo was just such a perfect character.

Tuesday 3 October 2017

My Side of the Diamond, Sally Gardner

"That illustrates the mother theory perfectly," said Becky. "She is just another loser exiled from the couple kingdom. Watch how fast your paper house burns down, Mrs Burns"
Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared. But Becky didn't just disappear - she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground. It was as if she simply vanished into thin air. Did Jazmin have something to do with her disappearance? Or was it more to do with Icarus, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky became suddenly besotted . . .

* * 
2 / 5 

I’m not really an alien book person. This is perhaps a peculiar quirk in my reading tastes: I love YA, I love sci-fi, and I love fantasy. I love books set on other worlds, around other cultures, that feature new, imaginative, and fascinating ways of existence and belief. So I like aliens. But I do not like books about aliens; books about UFOs and strange government programmes and weird aliens impersonating humans. Which is, weirdly, exactly what My Side of the Diamond turned out to be.

Sunday 1 October 2017

[article] September Round-Up

I took these books on holiday, but only managed to read three of them!

September Round Up

I think I've had a record number of one star reads this month, which is unfortunate, particularly at the start and end of September. However, sandwiched between these disappointments were some sparkling gems of books, including a book off of my most-anticipated list: A Closed and Common Orbit. Boy was I not let down! Other popular books I finally got around to include Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, but I also discovered a couple of under-the-radar fantastic books. 

Friday 29 September 2017

One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2), Kendare Blake

"I have been eating poison since I was a child. Now I am practically made of it"
With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

1 / 5 

I feel like the premise behind this series, which must be at least a trilogy judging by the ending of One Dark Throne, could have made one great hard-hitting standalone novel. Instead, we get a dragged out idea made into several books and, unfortunately, not much at all happens in One Dark Throne of any particular note. Mirabella and Arsinoe are virtually interchangeable, and Katherine has become the star of this book alongside my personal favourite character Jules. 

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1), Kendare Blake

"I want revenge," she whispers, and her fingers trail bloody streaks down Natalia's arms. "And then I want my crown"
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

* * 
2 / 5

The premise of this book is simple: a set of triplets is born on Fennbirn every generation. When these girls come of age, at sixteen, they have a year for one girl to become Queen via the murder of her two sisters. I thought I was going to get a book rife with violence, intrigue and deception, and most of all murder, but Three Dark Crowns isn't that book, it's the book before that book and it's kind of misleading. 

Sunday 24 September 2017

The Girl With The Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers #1), Katherine Locke

We are strange, sometimes, in the ways we choose to bear witness
When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

* * * *
4 / 5 

I wouldn't call myself a history nerd, but I would like to think that I have a reasonable understanding of a good chunk of European history. The Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall, however, have drifted under my radar - possibly because I've never been to Berlin but also perhaps because it's so recent, more recent than I had thought, such that it is less likely to become a dinner conversation and is more of a hushed memory. The Girl With The Red Balloon is a beautifully written and magical (in more ways than one) novel that I implore you to read.

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.