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.