Tuesday, 25 July 2017

[article] Oh, The Things I Do For Book Blogging



A beautiful looking book I just haven't gotten around to reading yet



Oh, The Things I Do For Book Blogging




Or, How Six Months of Book Blogging Has Made My Life More Interesting




Today marks the sixth-month anniversary of Atlas Rising Books. I've written over a hundred book reviews,  read and reviewed 57 books for Netgalley, and generally had a super-fun time. In celebration I thought I would share a few of the little odd, weird, and wonderful things that I, and other book bloggers, do as part of the blogging experience. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman


I simply didn't know how to make things better. I couldn't solve the puzzle of me. 


Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.


But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue each other from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

* * * *
4 / 5 

I found this book quite hard to read. Definitely a change of tone and genre from the kind of book that I normally peruse, Eleanor Oliphant's synopsis intrigued me. A young woman with poor social skills, a quiet life of small routines that is changed when she and Raymond, an awkward man from work, help an elderly man who had fallen on the pavement. It's a touching, thoughtful, and overall lovely work from a debut author. 

Friday, 21 July 2017

Mountain, Ursula Pflug


"What are you," I finally asked, "a punk or a monk?"
Seventeen-year-old Camden splits her time between her father, a minor rock star, and her mom, a scruffy "hardware geek" who designs and implements temporary and sustainable power systems and satellite linkups for off-grid music and art festivals, tree-sits, and attends gatherings of alternative healers. Lark, Camden's father, provides her with brand-name jeans, running shoes, and makeup, while her mother's world is populated by anarchists, freaks, geeks, and hippies. 
Naturally, Camden prefers staying with her dad and going to the mall with his credit card and her best friend, but one summer, when Lark is recording a new album, Camden accompanies her mother, Laureen, to a healing camp on a mountain in Northern California. After their arrival, Laureen heads to San Francisco, ostensibly to go find her lover.

* * 
2 / 5

Mountain was a bit of an odd book. Or, more accurately, a novella clocking in at about 140 pages. It's about a seventeen year old girl who goes to a "healing camp", a sort of festival / commune, with her wayward mother. One day Camden's mother goes down to town in the truck and never comes back, leaving Camden alone at the camp.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Girl Off The Gird, Jillian Dodd


Life is made up of moments. Moments that define you, change you, and test you.

NYC fashion blogger, Camille Caldwell, gets offered a dream job by her favorite magazine. They’re going to send her on an all-expenses paid eco-trip to Costa Rica. She doesn’t know what that means, but she assumes she’ll wear fabulous clothes, sip Piña Coladas on the beach, and have her photo taken “out in nature.” Really, the hardest part of the assignment will be giving up social media while she’s gone.

Going off social media is no big deal for London-based wildlife photographer, Adam Lloyd. The only reason he even has an account is to share his photos with the world. He’s thrilled when an international publication wants to hire him, until he finds out it’s a fashion magazine. He decides to take the job anyway—after all, it will be great for his portfolio. But the minute he sees Camille, he knows it was a mistake. She has too much luggage, is too high maintenance, and way too pretty.

* * 
2 / 5 

I'm a blogger, so occasionally I read books about bloggers. With a character like Camille Caldwell, rich girl, fashion vlogger, and "anti-nature" person, I knew a book like Girl Off The Grid could either be well-researched, nuanced, and interesting, or it could be fluffy, cute with the world's most predictable romance, and Camille could be annoying as hell. I hoped for the former but got the latter; if that's your kind of book, then go you, but it wasn't mine.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Scythe, Neal Shusterman


"My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another" 
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.


Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

* * *
3 / 5 

I've been wanting to read Scythe for a while for several reasons: (a) I enjoyed Shusterman's book Unwind, (b) I love the cover of Scythe, (c) the premise sounded really, really awesome. And the start of Scythe was really, really good. In a world that has surpassed mortality, where one can turn back the biological clock and become physically twenty again, where the only people who can truly kill or "glean" are the scythes, Citra and Rowan are taken on as apprentices.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Fallen Flame, J. Miller


I lowered the one in my hands and tossed it onto another, watching my flame catch and spread over the ground, like a wave of fire, lighting it all
Nineteen years ago, on the island kingdom of Garlin, a girl was born. With charred skin as rough as rock, Vala was instantly feared. For how could one be scorched by magic when it had perished ages before? 

Recognizing an asset, the royal family welcomed her on their Guard. Her detail: the prince. To watch. To protect. She has grown with him, lives her life for him. When the high kingdom’s princess comes to assess the prince, assassins of rival courtiers come to claim his life. One nearly succeeds in his mission. But with shadowy movements and charred skin like her own, Vala knows he is not like the rest.

* * * *
4 / 5

Nineteen years ago, many years after a veil of fog went up across the ocean and magic vanished from the human lands, a girl with charred skin was born. A girl who looked like she'd been rolled in the dying embers of a fire. Vala is the Captain of the Prince's Guard, and when assassin's and courtiers land on Garlin Island, the action and intrigue in Fallen Flame really shine.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

[article] How To Rate Books?


A rainbow of excellent (and not so excellent) books



How To Rate Books?



Or, Uh I Dunno It Was Kinda Good So 3 Stars I Guess




You might notice that this article is a question rather than a statement. That's because I don't really know, exactly, how to rate books and in my almost six months of book blogging, I think I've uncovered a little secret: no one does. You, like me, might have been fooled by those reviewers that put on their  blogs or Goodreads profiles those little "ratings guides" that look a little like this:

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon

She nodded and smiled. "Works for me." And Rishi, gods help him, thought, I could look at that smile every day and never get tired of it 

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? 



Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. 

* * * 
3 / 5 

When Dimple Met Rishi is a romance, pure and simple. Dimple and Rishi are both going to a summer program for aspiring coders and app developers, but for different reasons. Dimple wants to code, to build towards her future career. Rishi wants to go and meet his future wife, Dimple; their parents have been arranging their courtship for years. This book is funny and sweet and excellently diverse, but it also has pacing issues and I found the romance stifling at points. 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Flame In The Mist, Renee Ahdieh


Perhaps the forest simply knew this was where someone like Mariko - a lost girl in search of a place to call home - could plant roots and flourish
At just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. 

* * * 
3 / 5

Flame In The Mist is the latest book by the author of The Wrath and The Dawn, which I really enjoyed and do recommend. This book is very loosely a Mulan retelling in which Mariko, daughter of a noble house, is attacked by bandits on her way to marry the second in line to the emperor's throne. Lost in a creepy forest, Mariko cannot return home in shame and so endeavours to infiltrate the Black Clan, who she believes is responsible for her attempted murder. 

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Hundredth Queen, Emily King


Anything can be changed by those who have the courage to blaze their own path
As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

* * * .5
3.5 / 5

The Hundredth Queen had a strong opening: Kalinda is at mountain temple that raises young girls; in exchange for funding, any nobleman may visit the Sisterhood temple and choose a young woman to be a servant, courtesan, or wife. When Rajah Tarek arrives at the temple to choose his hundredth wife, Kalinda is shocked to be chosen; she had been hoping to be passed on by, free to devote her life to the Sisterhood and the gods. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Orchid Caper, Connie Dowell


Midterms were a terrible time to begin planning a heist, but honestly, would there ever be a good one?
A down-on-her luck burglar, a trust fund college kid with something to prove. Will they outfox a master thief?


All eighteen-year-old Darlene wants is to rob the joint. College guy Ian comes home too soon. And some ill-timed flatulence brings them together. Darlene thinks she’s toast. Instead Ian gives her a job offer, leading a heist team to steal a rare species of vanilla orchid. Only catch, she’s swiping from one of the best thieves in the biz.

* * 
2 / 5

My biggest problem with The Orchid Caper was that it was marketed as a YA novel when it would have done much better as a children's novel, I think, due to the rather simplistic plot. It's a YA group heist novel focused around Ian, who's trying to get a one-up on his brother by stealing something of value to him, who recruits Darlene after she unsuccessfully tries to burgle his house. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Trial By Fire, Lore Graham


Nothing captures the human imagination more than apocalypse, the end of times 
All Elena wants to do in join the Hollywood Heroes, meet her compatriots, and slowly get into the swing of saving the world. What she gets instead is Consequence, who took out a full-page ad in the LA Times threatening to bring about an apocalypse.


Between villainous masterminds, her fellow heroes, and her attraction to group leader Lacy, Elena is going to have to learn fast how to be a Hollywood Hero or the only thing she'll have to worry about is how to survive a post-apocalyptic world. 


1 / 5

I hadn't realised that this was a novella when I downloaded it, otherwise I would have given Trial By Fire a miss. So part of my dislike of this book was it's not you, it's me. Everything felt rushed: the explanations, the romance, the character building, the antagonist. I didn't feel like most of it made much sense and the book had a confused tone: the writing and plot were suitable for a children's novel, but there were two very explicit sex scenes.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

[article] June Round-Up


Normally I take a photo of all the books I read this month, but 
unfortunately I had to return a lot to the library, so here's a pretty
picture instead



June Round Up



June has been a good month for me: I've been home, done lots of reading, and had the details of my summer internship confirmed, which I'm very much excited about. After a month off of university I'm ready to get some daily structure back into my life! 

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.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Elite (The Selection #2), Kiera Cass


"I pranced around the room like a blind moose"
The Selection began with thirty-five girls. Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?


America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.
* .5
1.5 / 5

In some ways, The Elite was better than The Selection, in other ways it was much worse. If you enjoyed The Selection, then you'll probably like this one too, I imagine. If you're asking why I read and am reviewing The Elite when I did not enjoy The Selection, it's because I ordered the whole trilogy through the library, so I thought I might as well read the whole lot, considering how short they are.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Release, Patrick Ness


Can I love? he thought. Can I? Can I be loved?
Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.
* * * *
4 / 5 


Release, like every other Patrick Ness book I've read, and I've read four or five, is beautiful, poignant, sad, and really, really, really, weird. There's two overlapping stories here; the first is an excellent one focusing on Adam Thorn, the very gay son of very religious parents who is counting down the days until he can leave home, and the second is some sort of bizarre fairy tale type involving a Queen, the spirit of a murdered girl, and a faun. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

[discussion] Getting Down With The Technology


I can barely even take a decent photo for Instagram!

Getting Down With The Technology



Or, Oh God What Are All These Things?



Like any self-respecting up and coming book blogger, after a few months at this I decided I'd have a little poke around and see what all the hard hitters are doing. Two of the bigger blogs that I consistently read are Paper Fury and The Bookavid so I trotted over there to see what tips they have for beginners such as myself. Half an hour later I have half a dozen new passwords to remember and I'm slightly terrified by the inter-connectivity of the internet.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Mechanical Bird: A Tale of Two Ladies, Glenn Song


She wanted to go back to her tower room and absorb herself in her stacks of algebra
Alicia Reynard, a country farm girl, has dreamed of flying like a bird as long as she can remember. For her, these dreams have become a quest to build a flying steam carriage. Lady Elena Singleton, a young noblewoman, is in love with mathematics and the new field of mechanical computation. When their country Maedrelleden goes to war with their northern neighbor, Vergenstat, the men are conscripted to fight for king and country. In their absence, an opportunity arises for these two very different women to gain a higher education in the capital of Aeterall. Will this chance be the opportunity to unlock their potential and ingenuity?

The Mechanical Bird: A Tale of Two Ladies is, as far as I can gather, a whole book chopped into thirds. Whilst it is the length of a novella it is not a novella in the sense that it does not contain a complete story arc and so, whilst I enjoyed the characters and the direction that this book was taking, I'm not quite sure why the author chose to publish his work thus, which is why I have left this book unrated.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

[article] Five Upcoming Fantasy & Sci-fi Under-the-Radar Releases, 2017


Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings books are my all-time favourite fantasy series


Five Upcoming Fantasy & Sci-fi Under-the-Radar Releases



Or, Five Books That Sound Really Cool That You Probably Haven't Heard Of



I get a good chunk of my reading recommendations from Goodreads and for some reason the majority of my friends on there read YA rather than adult fantasy or sci-fi. So to find those awesome adult / older teen fantasy novels (think Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn or The Way of Kings), I normally have to do a bit of digging, often at the back of a charity shop. So I've compiled a list of five fantasy and sci-fi novels coming out later this year that I've got my eye on that I don't think are particularly well known. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Boy With The Porcelain Blade, Den Patrick


Vanity is always the first casualty of survival
Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted - but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the 'insane' women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.


Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself

* * *
3 / 5 


I picked up The Boy With The Porcelain Blade from the library on a whim, mostly because the cover was nice and the title sounded a bit intriguing. For the first half or so I was rather underwhelmed, annoyed partly by constant switching back and forward in time and partly by the arrogant main character, Lucien. But slowly the book started to grow on me as the characters got fleshed out more and the action started building momentum. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Assassin's Fate (Fitz & the Fool #3), Robin Hobb


"Don't doubt us, or we are lost."
"Fitz, my love, that is the problem. I do not doubt Bee's dreams at all" 

Prince FitzChivalry Farseer’s daughter Bee was violently abducted from Withywoods by Servants of the Four in their search for the Unexpected Son, foretold to wield great power. With Fitz in pursuit, the Servants fled through a Skill-pillar, leaving no trace. It seems certain that they and their young hostage have perished in the Skill-river.

Clerres, where White Prophets were trained by the Servants to set the world on a better path, has been corrupted by greed. Fitz is determined to reach the city and take vengeance on the Four, not only for the loss of Bee but also for their torture of the Fool. Accompanied by FitzVigilant, son of the assassin Chade, Chade’s protégé Spark and the stableboy Perseverance, Bee's only friend, their journey will take them from the Elderling city of Kelsingra, down the perilous Rain Wild River, and on to the Pirate Isles.

Their mission for revenge will become a voyage of discovery, as well as of reunions, transformations and heartrending shocks. Startling answers to old mysteries are revealed. What became of the liveships Paragon and Vivacia and their crews? What is the origin of the Others and their eerie beach? How are liveships and dragons connected?

*this review contains mild spoilers for all previous Robin Hobb books*


* * * * *
5 / 5

I don't really have the words to say how much this series, these books, these characters have meant to me. But I will, nevertheless, try my best. I read Assassin's Apprentice when I was thirteen years old, and I genuinely believe that it changed my life, so when Robin Hobb announced that she would be writing the Fitz & the Fool trilogy a few years back, I was absolutely delighted. Whilst I enjoyed Fool's Assassin and Fool's Quest, they pale next to this stunning conclusion. Mostly, this is a result of a clear plot direction and the reunion of FitzChivalry and Beloved.   

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Under Rose-Tainted Skies, Louise Gornall


"I'm being forced to challenge ideas that have kept me safe for so long"
At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.


But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.



Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

* * 
2 / 5 

Under Rose-Tainted Skies has taught me two things: firstly, to read the backs of books properly in order to correctly identify a YA romance, rather than a general YA book. Secondly, that YA romances are just not my thing. Whilst Under Rose-Tainted Skies has an insightful and respectful portrayal of various types of mental health issues (OCD, agoraphobia, anxiety), the book feels directionless and the romance falls flat. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Selection (The Selection #1), Kiera Cass


"No, I'm not choosing him or you. I'm choosing me."
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.


Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

* .5
1.5 / 5

I didn't really expect to enjoy The Selection, but I was hoping it would be enjoyable in the same sort of way that Made in Chelsea is enjoyable - it's complete and utter trash, but it's fun trash. But most of the time The Selection isn't really that fun. It's key flaw, I think, is that it tries to be serious. If it had owned the fact that it's a weird Hunger Games parody, it might have been more enjoyable.

Monday, 15 May 2017

[article] Five Upcoming YA Under-the-Radar Releases, 2017



Five Upcoming YA Under-the-Radar Releases



Or, Five Books That Sound Really Cool That You Probably Haven't Heard Of



Like a lot of readers, I get many of my book recommendations from my friends or from Goodreads. What that means is that a lot of the books I preorder or get excited for in advance are popular books - the hype on my dashboard surrounding A Court of Wings and Ruin would be a good example. This means that, unfortunately, whilst the hype machine can pick up wonderful reads that I might not have otherwise tried, a lot of great books slip under the metaphorical radar. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Joyride Vol #1, Jackson Lanzing


Earth sucks. Steal a spaceship.
Earth sucks. The stars have been blocked out for so long that people have forgotten there was anything else besides the World Government Alliance watching over them. When Uma Akkolyte jacks an alien spaceship and punches through the stratosphere she sets forth on an adventure with an unlikely crew who are totally not ready for all the good, bad, and weird the universe will throw at them.
* * * *
4 / 5

Joyous and beautiful, Joyride #1 is an excellent start to a comic series.  Uma Akkolyte, fed up with her life on a tyrannically ruled Earth that has forbidden interstellar travel, steals an alien spaceship and sets out to explore the stars with her friend Dewydd, a robot, an alien they pick up on a nearby planet, and a surprise guest in the form of the Princess of Earth, Caitlin. I absolutely loved the crew and their dynamics.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Welcome Back #1, Christopher Sebela


Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of different lives throughout time, caught up in an eternal cycle as they take part in a war so old that neither side remembers what they’re fighting for anymore. As Mali wakes up in her newest life, she suddenly becomes self-aware and starts to question everything, especially why she continues to fight. But elsewhere, Tessa is already on the hunt
* * * 
3 / 5

Welcome Back is a graphic novel, the first book comprising of 4 issues. I don't often read graphic novels, but this one was a fun foray into the genre. I was entirely attracted by the plot: Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of lives and each life they have only one goal: to kill the other. Lifetime after lifetime they have fought, for so long they can't ever remember why, only that they must. But now, Mali is having doubts. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Den of Shadows, Christopher Byford


"I can't stand the idea of not being in control, that something is pulling my strings to reach a destiny I can't influence" 

While fighting off poverty in the blistering desert heat a travelling casino offers one night of solace. One night to forget all your troubles. But once on board there is more to the show than meets the eye: enter Franco, the elaborate ringleader, Wyld the stowaway thief and Misu the fire breathing showgirl.


In a kingdom ruled by the law Franco ensures his den remains in line, ruling with an iron first. But when he’s faced with saving the fate of the train, and those on board, he may be forced to break his own rules. Life on the den isn’t just a job but a way of life. And now you’re about to find out why!

* * 
2 / 5

This book took me on such a roller-coaster ride of feelings. It has such a promising and solid start that I thought it would a 4 or 5 star read for sure. Then it sort of plodded along aimlessly, picked up a bit near the middle with some Western-vibe gunfights and political malarky, then shuffled to the end of the book. Den of Shadows could absolutely work for you if you like slow-paced, character study-esque novels, but unfortunately I found it rather underwhelming.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Spellslinger, Sebastien de Castell

"Tricks are all I have." I said. "Clever. The boy always seeks to be clever."


Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage's duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is gone.


As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. 


Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi - a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She's difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen's only hope...

* * * * .5
4.5 / 5

Kellen is supposed to be earning his mage name; on the cusp of turning sixteen, if he doesn't pass the four trials he'll be relegated to the life of a servant. The problem? He doesn't have any magic any more. It doesn't help that his father is the most powerful mage of their people and his sister, barely thirteen, is already passing all of her trials. This is an absolutely wonderful book that grabbed me from the very first page.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Hit The Ground Running, Mark Burley


"Dudes, seriously, what's the plan?" asked Lakey
Eric might not be getting along with his family—or anyone else, for that matter—but he's pretty sure a boarding school in another country isn't the answer. Skilled in parkour, running helps him deal. So be it, he decides. Do the time and get out. Flow like water. But when he gets a cryptic message from his brother telling him their parents have been abducted, and then his brother disappears, he realises they weren't punishing him, they were hiding him. 
To find them, Eric has to discover the secrets of his parents' research, but the conspiracy he uncovers threatens more than just his family. With help from unlikely new friends, a hack-first-ask-questions-later approach to computers, and a dangerous plan, he soon learns that some secrets don’t want to be found, and others have a way of revealing themselves at all the wrong times.

* * *
3 / 5 

Eric gets a mysterious video message from his brother that ends in his apparent kidnapping. Unsure if this is a joke or not, Eric recruits fellow schoolmates Tess, Seth, and Lakey, to help him investigate. We get pulled into the web of mysteries that surrounds Eric, his brother, their parents and their team's latest archaeological dig in Libya. Hit the Ground Running is well written and the characters are great, but the action is predictable and the mystery bizarre.