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. 

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!

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.