Saturday, 15 April 2017

Mini reviews: Last Breath by Robert Bryndza & Air and Ash by Alex Lidell

Summary: He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

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Sometimes as a series goes on the books kind of lose the appeal they once held. The fourth book in the Erika Foster series, however, is just as great as the others! The thing that makes this one different from the previous books is that we learn the identity of the killer quite early on, but this makes it no less thrilling. The plot moves at a steady pace and Bryndza creates a high stakes atmosphere full of tension, fear, and mystery. The development of Erika's character was well done, she's growing as the series progresses and I enjoyed seeing her try and move forward from her past. Her relationship with Peterson is a slow burn and it was well handled too, in my opinion. Overall, a great read!

Rating:

Summary: After a lifetime of training, seventeen-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission—and fails.

Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battleworthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over.

But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future.

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Publication date: 02/05/17

I fell in love with Lidell's debut novel The Cadet of Tildor when it was released in 2014. It quickly became one of my favourite books of the year, so it really sucked to find out that due to a lack of sales (I think) there was not going to be a sequel. It's a book that stayed with me long after finishing it, one that I still find myself thinking about today. I'm not going to lie, I follow Lidell on Twitter and having been waiting to hear news of a sequel. That hasn't happened, however, when I saw that she was working on something new I was really excited.  Air and Ash was a decent read, but not quite as amazing as I'd hope it would be. I liked Nile's dedication to her kingdom and her love for her sibling. I did, however, find her thoughts towards a girl who befriends her on board the ship she is travelling on frustrating. She's a different kind of woman to Nile, but I saw them both as strong in their own ways. Nile, however, was a little close minded in the way that she saw her, imo. The romance was a hate-to-respect-to something-more type situation which I always enjoy. All in all, I would rate it 3/3.5 hearts.

Rating:


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Unpopular opinions book tag

I've been looking for tags to participate in and the "unpopular opinions book tag" (which was was created by TheBookArcher) seemed fun!

1. A popular book or series that you didn't like.

The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. 

2. A popular book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love. 

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. I know the last book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy had many spilt opinions, but personally I LOVED it. I was so happy with how it ended, and the epilogue was everything. 💝

3. A Love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with.

Spoilers ahead...

I don't tend to read books with love triangles, but I did not see this triangle coming. I was so annoyed when Juliette and Warner from the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahera Mafi became a thing. Even more so because to me it felt like originally the author intended Adam/Juliette to be a couple, but then suddenly after book 2 she changed her mind. Adam's character did a complete 360 and became completely unrecognisable  in the novella from his POV, Fracture Me. I was so enraged by it and also the final book in the trilogy, Ignite Me. I prefer for love triangles to be up front, so I can avoid/DNF the book and not waste my time getting invested in the series. You can read my rant  review of the novella from Adam's POV here if you're interested.

4. A popular book genre that you hardly reach for.

Contemporary fiction, because I prefer my books not to be grounded in reality. Fantasy all the way! 🙌

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

The Darkling from the Shadow and Bone trilogy. I know a lot of people ship him with Alina, but to me he is a villain. I can't see him as a love interest considering everything he's done. 

6. A popular author that you can't seem to get into. 

Lauren DeStefano, Lauren Oliver, Maggie Stiefvater, Kiersten White, Richelle Mead, Alexandra Bracken. I could go on really...

7. A popular book trope that you're tired of seeing.

I'm going to be honest and admit that I actually enjoy tropes like the chosen one, the lost princess, etc. It' the love triangle/insta-love trope that annoys the heck out of me. For example, I could be interested in reading a book, but then if I see in a review that there's a love triangle/insta-love immediately I'm like NOPE. 😞

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I know for sure I would not be able to get on with the mc and the romance sounds like a hot mess.

9. The saying goes "The book is always better than the movie", but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

Under the Dome by Stephen King. I've never been interested in reading the book, but my sister and I use to love watching the TV show.

What would your answers be to these questions be? Do you hold a similar opinion to me on any of the above? 📚

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Summary: Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up - they know that Earth's settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.

When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth's robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis' salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her - even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He's a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?

Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth's various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer - both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world's fate, and Abel's.


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Publication date: 06/04/17 (UK) 

When I first read the summary of Defy the Stars I was immediately drawn in as it kind of reminded me of the Partials trilogy by Dan Well - one of my favourite YA sci-fi books.

Defy the Stars is a thrilling adventure with two likable protagonists. Noemi is strong, kind, and selfless. I loved how determined she was to save her planet, and far she was willing to go to do this. Abel, a robotic mech from Earth, was just as interesting as Noemi. Although he is a mech his POV is far from boring. In fact I loved his reflections on humans, life, and the world. His unintentional humour also made me smile.

Defy the Stars is a really thought provoking read, I''ve always found stories about humans and robots fascinating. Throughout the book I was questioning things just as much as Abel . For example, does a mech have a soul when he can think for himself and feel?

Noemi and Abel's adventure from planet to planet was fun and exciting. I liked the inclusion of diversity, Noemi herself is a POC and the worlds that we are introduced to are diverse in terms of religion and race.

The romance was also well done. Noemi and Abel start of as enemies, but slowly come to understand, trust, and rely on each other. This is my fave kind of romance - all slow burn and shippy.

Overall, Defy the Stars was an addictive read. I finished it in 4 days which for me is a feat because I usually don't have much time to read due to work. In this case, however, I found myself staying up far longer than I should have. I'm both excited and nervous about the sequel!

Rating:

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Literary Journeys: A Reader's Journal illustrated by Andre Letria

Description from Abrams & Chronicle's website: Inviting bibliophiles to record their thoughts and keep track of what to read next, this richly colourful and whimsically illustrated reader's journal will capture the imagination of any book lover.

Pre-order

Price: £11.99 & $14.95

Publication date: 14/03/17
Publisher: Abrams & Chronicle

I was really happy when this journal arrived in the post. Over the past two years I've been keeping track of the books I've read by jotting down the title and author in a little notebook, but with this journal there's room for more.

Click to enlarge.

In section 1, as you can see from the image above, you can record the following about the book you've just finished reading:
  • Date started
  • Date finished 
  • Star rating
  • Book title
  • Author
  • Plot notes
  • Character notes
  • Favourite quotes
  • Other books to read by this author

Cool, right? I absolutely love the layout, and am looking forward to getting started.


There are four different sections, each of which is introduced with a colourful illustration by Andre Letria:
  • Section 1: Book notes
  • Section 2: Books to check out
  • Section 3: Notes, ideas, and observations
  • Section 4: Reading inspiration 
In section 2 you can jot down books you're interested in reading/books on your tbr.

Click to enlarge.

There's space to write down the book title, author, and notes.

Section 3: "Notes, ideas, and observations" is pretty self explanatory. You can basically jot down whatever you like! 😀

Click to enlarge.

Section 4: If you're not sure what to read next this section is super helpful with recommendations of books that have won literary awards. There's even a couple of pages at the end that let you record your own prize winners!


Click to enlarge.

And last but not least it also came with a box of 20 notecards (5 colourful designs, 4 of each) & envelopes!


As you can tell I'm eager to start using this cute little journal. Tell me, what do you guys think of it? 📚

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Mini reviews: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz & Dawn Study by Maria V Snyder

I'm a fan of Horowitz's Alex Rider and Power of Five series, so I was intrigued when I saw that he was writing a murder mystery.

Magpie Murder's features two murder mysteries - there's a story within the story. It was cleverly crafted and both stories held my attention. They were equally unpredictable as I honestly had no clue who the murderers were, and was trying to solve the mystery along with the two main characters. Plus, the story within the story gave me Agatha Christie vibes, whose Hercule Poirot books I adore.  

All in all, Magpie Murders was an enjoyable read.

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Rating:


The original Study trilogy holds a special place in my heart. It's the trilogy that first got me into high fantasy - which is now my favourite genre.

Dawn study has all the usual ingredients of a Study book. Yelena and Valek kicking butt with the gang, plot twists, adventure, and of course romance.

I'll miss the characters and the world, but I think this is the right place for the series to end.

Overall, the final book in the Study series was thoroughly satisfying.

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Rating:

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Review: Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Summary: After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands. 

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This is one of those rare instances where the sequel is even better than the first book. Windwitch delivered on so many fronts, and completely took me by surprise. I was so not expecting Dennard to take these characters in the direct she did.

Diversity. We live in a diverse world, so imo that should be reflected in the books we read. Dennard does a brilliant job of this, not only are there POC in this series but there are also LGBTQ+ characters. I liked the fact that they weren't just put in for show, and I appreciated how skin colour wasn't described in terms of food, which unfortunately I've seen in books before.

Aeduan/Iseult. When I first read the summary of the book I'm not going to lie, I was excited to see that Aeduan and Iseult would be travelling together. The reason why is because I was shipping these two hard in the first book, despite the fact that they had hardly any scenes together or barely talked for that matter. The thing is, though, Dennard cleverly crafted the scenes they did have together and my shippy feels were on in full force. I enjoyed seeing them work together and slowly trust each other. It was also interesting getting to know more about the pair.

Vivia. I was not a fan of Vivia, but I came to love her in Windwitch. The fact that she has a POV really helps to get to understand her better. She is fierce, determined and there's definitely more to her than meets the eye.  I also liked the exploration into her relationship with her brother, Merik, and am hoping we get more Vivia/Merik moments in the books that follow.

Merik. Talking about Merik, man does he go through a lot. I really felt for him, as well as going through a physical change he comes to learn more about himself and his eyes are opened to some things that he was previously blind to.

Safi. Along with  some unexpected companions Safi and the Empress of Marstok go on a riveting adventure. The plot thickens as they journey through a land filled with pirates, and I may or may not have been shipping Safi and spoiler.

I cannot wait for the next book in the series, Bloodwitch, (more Aeduan!) because I just know it's going to be amazing!

Rating:

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Review: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

Summary: Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London's criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

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Publication date: 07/03/17

The wait for the third book in my favourite on-going series has been torture, but in the end it was worth it. The Song Rising met my expectations, with its killer twists and shocking revelations. It was my first (and only) five star book of 2016 and I wasn't even surprised! As someone who is bored of typical dystopian fiction, this series is a breath of fresh air. The way it  mixes urban fantasy with dystopia just works. Utterly compelling, it's like no other dystopian series I've read before.

The Song Rising picks up where the previous book left off. Paige is trying to bring together the underworld, which is no easy job. She wants change and with change comes hard decisions. Some decisions she comes to regret as they back fire, and this sometimes makes her doubt herself and her ability to be Underqueen. At the end of the day, though, she knows she has to shoulder the responsibility and learn from her mistakes. Her continued growth amazed me, and I'm sure there's more to come as the series progresses.

Some may find the pacing of the first half of the book slow as there's not a ton of action. As with the previous book, however, I didn't mind the pacing. I found every page of The Song Rising to be fascinating. The world-building expanded in this instalment of The Bone Season series, and it added even more layers to the story. We finally see Paige stepping out of Scion London, and exploring Scion Edinburgh and Manchester. I found the snow filled journey and exploration into both places interesting as they differed quite a bit from Scion London.

In regards to Warden and Paige, whenever these two were in a scene together there was this palpable chemistry, it didn't matter whether they were talking, not talking, or making out. They just have this amazing slow burn romance. I can say hands down that they are my top ship at the moment. They work so well together, and even when problems arise in their relationship I like that Warden doesn't push Paige. He fully supports her and knows when to step back.
 
I loved the winter atmosphere in The Song Rising, and it was exciting to see the sparks of revolution being set into motion.  The last half of the book especially was full of surprises, and with the way things ended I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Rating:

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