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.