Tuesday 29 August 2017

Mask of Shadows, Linsey Miller

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

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

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

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

Sunday 27 August 2017

Witchtown, Cory Putman Oakes

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

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

* * *
3 / 5

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

Friday 25 August 2017

The False Prince, Jennifer Nielsen

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

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

* * *
3 / 5

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

Thursday 24 August 2017

This Body Won't Break, Lea McKee

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

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

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

* * *
3 / 5

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

Tuesday 22 August 2017

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

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

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

* * *
3 / 5 

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

Sunday 20 August 2017

Scourge (Darkhurst #1), Gail Z. Martin

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

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

1 / 5 

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

Thursday 17 August 2017

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1), Elly Blake

 "Affairs between frost and fire rarely end well"

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

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

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

Tuesday 15 August 2017

One Of Us Is Lying, Karen McManus

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * *
4 / 5 

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

Saturday 12 August 2017

Body Parts, Jessica Kapp

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

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

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

Thursday 10 August 2017

[article] A Warrior Cats Child

This is probably not a warrior cat

A Warrior Cats Child

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

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

Monday 7 August 2017

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

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

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

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

* * *
3 / 5

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

Friday 4 August 2017

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Marissa Meyer

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

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

* * *
3 / 5

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

Tuesday 1 August 2017

[article] July Round-Up

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

July Round Up

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