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. 

Friday 15 September 2017

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

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

She must become her.

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

* * * * 
4 / 5

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

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1), Scott Reintgen

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

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

* * * * *
5 / 5

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

Monday 11 September 2017

Antisocial, Heidi Cullinan

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

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

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

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

* *

2 / 5

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

Saturday 9 September 2017

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

Excuse my super flash running trainers

Books With Sport

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

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

Thursday 7 September 2017

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

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

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

* * * 

3 / 5 

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

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Fireblood (Frostblood Saga #2), Elly Blake

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

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

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

* * *
3 / 5

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

Sunday 3 September 2017

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts #2), Vic James

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

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

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

* * * * 
4 / 5 

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

Friday 1 September 2017

[article] August Round-Up

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

August Round Up

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