Sunday, 2 September 2018

August Wrap Up

I always look forward to the month of August as this is the month of school holidays and that means lots of time to read. I managed to read 6 books this month and I'm nearly finished with 2 which isn't as good as I had hoped however, considering I'm moving house in 2 weeks and have spent lots of time packing, I think I did quite well. Here are the books I read in August. 




Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Published 20th September 2016 by Tor Teen
Star Rating - **.5
Goodreads Challenge - 20/75
Review - Blog Review







The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Lee
Published 8th August 2017 by Amulet Books
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 19/75
Review - Blog Review







Ash by Melinda Lo
Published 4th March 2010 by Hodder Children's
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 21/75







Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Published 22nd May 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 18/75
Review - Blog Review







Ascension by Victor Dixen 
Published 28th June 2018 by Hot Key Books
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 22/75
Review - Blog Review







Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Published 28th August 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton
Star Rating - ****

Goodreads Challenge - 23/75
Review - Blog Review




Currently Reading: The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes and The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell. I'm hoping to finish at least one of these tonight. 

That's everything I read in August. I had a pretty good month, my favorite read being Furyborn by Claire Legrand but Mirage and Ascension come in a close second. 

How many books did you read this month and what was your favorite read? Let me know. 


Saturday, 1 September 2018

Review - Mirage by Somaiya Daud


Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Published 28th August 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 23/75

I received an eARC of this via NetGalley in exchange for and honest review.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancĂ©, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection...because one wrong move could lead to her death.
 

My Thoughts

I'd seen the cover of this one floating around book Twitter for a while so I thought I'd request it on NetGalley and I was really pleased when I was accepted to read it that I dived in pretty much straight away. My initial understanding was that this was a Moroccan style fantasy and this alone was enough to make me want to read it as I love African inspired fantasies. However, when I looked into it further I discovered this story was a blend of fantasy and sci-fi and this excited me even more. It sounded new and fresh and I couldn't wait to dive in and it's safe to say I wasn't disappointed. 

I thought this book was a great mix of some more typical aspects of fantasy stories with a some interesting twists. Some may describe some of the aspects of this story as a bit tropey, particularly the romance, but I thought it was great all the same. The Moroccan inspiration and the sci-fi elements made the book stand out from others that I have read in a similar genre. When I first started reading this is actually reminded me of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer so I would say if you were a fan of that series then you will enjoy this one. 

The plot was fast moving, we often moved on days or weeks at a time between each chapter. However, the author did this well and the story flowed, it wasn't disjointed at all. Again the plot was quite typical of fantasy novels that I've read but I still enjoyed it. I loved learning about the unique customs and cultures of the characters. 

I liked the characters in this book too. I loved how strong-willed Amani was, she didn't give up and kept on fighting, even after being taken from her family. I also enjoyed Maram as a character. I thought she was quite a complex character and it was interesting to see both sides to her personality and how she handled herself in different situations. The conflicts and expectations she faces throughout the story enabled the author to really explore her character and I enjoyed that. I also quite enjoyed the romance, even though it was a little tropey. Idris was super sweet and I was definitely routing for him and Amani although, there were times when I felt a little sorry for Maram.

Overall I enjoyed this one. It was a great blend of fantasy and sci-fi with a Moroccan influences. I loved reading this one from start to finish and I can't wait to dive into the sequel. 

Overall Rating 



Friday, 31 August 2018

Review - Ascension by Victor Dixen


Ascension by Victor Dixen 
Published 28th June 2018 by Hot Key Books
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 22/75

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

'This thrilling space odyssey will keep you turning pages late into the night.'
C. J. Daugherty, author of NIGHT SCHOOL

Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world's craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones. 
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.

My Thoughts

I'm not a massive fan of romance books and when I initially saw this one advertised with the tagline 'Love Island in space' I wasn't that intrigued. However, after seeing lots of positive reviews all over Twitter I though why not give it a go and I'm so glad I did. This goes to show how good it is to sometimes read outside of your comfort zone. 

To me the romance wasn't the big thing in this book, although there is lots of romance aspects, but more the development of the relationships. The isolated setting of the spaceship added an extra layer to all of the relationships for me. It was interesting to see how both the girls and boys coped with the stress of constant observation and each other in such as small space. I think this novel highlighted the importance of privacy and our need for personal space. I was also pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the speed dating sessions but again I think I enjoyed the development of the relationships more so than the romance. The other thing I quite enjoyed about this book was the way the plot developed. There were often times when I was kept wondering what was going to happen next and the air of mystery at times throughout the story kept me wanting to know more. The whole story felt like it built in suspense and the way the book ended definitely had me wanting more!

As I said before I enjoyed the development of the relationships between the characters and, as well as these relationships, I enjoyed the diversity and development of the characters themselves. There were lots of distinctive personalities and I think the author did a great job of exploring these and keeping them separate from one another. Each character had their own background story, often laced with secrets, and it was fascinating to see each of these develop in their own way. I feel there is a lot still left to discover about many of these characters too and that makes me excited to continue in the series. 

Overall I was really pleasantly surprised by this one. I made a conscious decision to step outside of my comfort zone when I requested a copy of this book and it has definitely made me want to do that more often. I loved the exploration of the characters and their relationships and that ending has really made me want more of the story. I cannot wait to dive into the next in the series.

Overall Rating 



Friday, 10 August 2018

Review - Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter


Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
Published 20th September 2016 by Tor Teen
Star Rating - **.5
Goodreads Challenge - 20/75

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

My Thoughts 

I've had this one on my TBR for a while and I decided to pick it up for the Booktubeaton challenge, a book with a beautiful spine. I was intrigued by the synopsis and I know that it's a retelling of the Russian fairy tale Vassilisa the Beautiful and, if you follow my reviews, you will know I love fairy tale retellings so I was keen to give it a go. Unfortunately it didn't hit the spot for me and I was a little bit disappointed. 

I'm not really familiar with Russian fairy tales and I've never actually read the original story so I can't comment on how close to the original tale this book is. I can say however, that the story was completely and utterly weird. After reading the prologue and the first chapter or so I knew it was going to be a strange read and I was actually a little bit confused to begin with. As I continued with the story I was able to distinguish who was who and I was able to follow the plot however, the story continued to get stranger and stranger as well as quite graphic and gruesome in some parts. 

Now, even though the story was completely and utterly weird, there were parts of the writing that were really magical. Sarah Porter has a really wonderful and lyrical writing style and it was such a shame that the story was so strange as I think I could really love the way she writes. I also quite liked Vassa as a character, she was strong willed and independent which I enjoyed. I also enjoyed her interactions with Erg. They were quite snarky and humorous and this really lightened up the writing a little bit and brought us back down to earth if you like. 

Overall it wasn't a bad book. There were some aspects that I really enjoyed such as the writing and some of the characters however, the story just got too weird for me. Maybe I might have found it a bit easier to read had I been familiar with the original tale, I'm not sure, and other reviews seem to have contradicting opinions over this. If you can get on board with weird storytelling then maybe give this one a go but if you prefer a more straight forward plot then maybe avoid this one.

Overall Rating (2.5*)


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Review - The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Lee


The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Lee
Published 8th August 2017 by Amulet Books
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 19/75

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

She annihilates standardized tests and the bad guys.

Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.

But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.

Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.

My Thoughts

I'd not really heard much about this one before picking it up, all I did know was that it was a diverse read and included aspects of Chinese/Asian mythology and that was enough to intrigue me so I thought I'd give it a go. Usually I love books based on any type of mythology, it's one of my favorite things to read about but unfortunately I was a little bit disappointed with this one. 

I didn't dislike the story, I enjoyed it enough to want to finish it but there was just something about it that didn't pull me in completely, I'm not sure what it was about it. I really appreciated the diversity in this book. The main character was Chinese/American and it was interesting to hear bits about her culture and the Chinese mythology but I wanted more of this. I would of loved for this to dive into the Chinese mythology more as that's what really interested me in the story in the first place. I did enjoy Genie as a character too, she was fierce and independent and really determined to make her own future which is what I like in a female character. However, I wasn't a massive fan of Quintin he came across as quite full of himself and was a little bit of an idiot at times however, this did improve as the story progressed. 

As I said before when I went into this one I was expecting a lot of the Chinese mythology to come through and therefore expecting it to be a much more fantastical read than what it actually was. To me it read a lot more like a contemporary with aspects of magical realism and although I don't mind these types of stories, it wasn't what I was expecting. To me the writing felt quite bland, there was nothing that really stood out about it. The author used a lot of humor throughout the story but again I didn't really engage with it. That's not to say that others won't, it was just how I felt. 

Overall this was a pretty average read for me. I liked the diversity and the aspects of Chinese mythology but I really just wanted more. I also liked Genie as a character but she was really the only one. That's not to say it's a bad book, it's just not my cup of tea so if the premise sounds interesting to you then I would say pick it up as you may enjoy it more then I did. 

Overall Rating 



Saturday, 4 August 2018

Review - Furyborn by Claire Legrand


Furyborn by Claire Legrand
Published 22nd May 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 18/75

I received and eARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.
 

My Thoughts

So I'm sure there's lots of people who, like me, went a bit mad at requesting titles on NetGalley thinking they won't get approved and then, all of a sudden, you have lots of eARCs to read and no time to read them. Well that was the story of my blogging life a few months ago and now I'm trying to make an effort to work my way through my backlog, starting with Furyborn. 

To begin I found the story to be a bit confusing. The Prologue really drew me in and I was intrigued to know more but the main POVs then jumped to two different time periods and I was finding it a bit difficult to follow what was going on. However, I kept going and I'm glad I did as I quickly found myself drawn into the story and wanting to know what was going to happen next. The story is told through two different perspectives and I know duel POV stories can be off putting to some but I quite enjoy them. I liked seeing how the two stories became entwined with each other. My favorite POV was Rielle's I loved following her in the trials, this sort of storyline really appeals to me. The writing was fast paced and action packed and I really found myself saying just one more chapter. It did not feel like I was reading a 500 page book. 

I enjoyed the characters too. As the two main characters, Rielle and Eliana definitely had their flaws but there was also something likable about them both. Both characters are independent and fearsome in their own way and you get to see them both grow into themselves over the course of the book and I can't wait to see what becomes of them in the next installment. I also quite enjoyed the romance between Rielle and Audric, although I know this does have quite a split opinion amongst other reviewers. I was really rooting for them and the sex scenes didn't bother me. They demonstrated consensual sex and to me that's important. I wasn't a massive fan of Eliana's romance though. It was quite predictable and it seemed to be lacking in development. That being said it didn't bother me that much. 

Overall I really enjoyed this one. It's been a while since I got stuck in to a really good YA fantasy story, especially one that's part of a series. I will definitely be picking up the next installment as soon as I can.

Overall Rating 


Friday, 3 August 2018

Review - The Con Artist by Fred Van Lente


The Con Artist by Fred Van Lente
Published 10th July 2018 by Quirk Books
Star Rating - ***.5
Goodreads Challenge - 17/75

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

This illustrated mystery will appeal to comic book fans and anyone who appreciates an unconventional whodunit.

Comic book artist Mike Mason arrives at San Diego Comic-Con, seeking sanctuary with other fans and creators—and maybe to reunite with his ex—but when his rival is found murdered, he becomes the prime suspect. To clear his name, Mike will have to navigate every corner of the con, from zombie obstacle courses and cosplay flash mobs to intrusive fans and obsessive collectors, in the process unraveling a dark secret behind one of the industry’s most legendary creators.

My Thoughts

I received this book in the post unexpectedly from the publisher and after reading the synopsis I was intrigued enough to pick it up and I'm glad I did. I quite enjoyed the reading experience. It was a super fun, quick and easy read that kept me entertained until the end. 

This was your usual murder mystery story made much more interesting due to the fact it was based at a Comic Con. If your a fan of the 'geek' culture in anyway I'm sure you will enjoy this story. I'm not a massive comic fan, although I do enjoy superhero movies and popular fandoms such as Harry Potter and GoT, but even then I still enjoyed this one. I'm sure there were lots of Easter eggs and references that I didn't get but that didn't put me off. They must of blended in well with the storyline and I'm sure if you were familiar with them they would only enhance your reading experience. 

The main character was really down to earth and actually quite relatable. He came across as a genuine guy that seemed to have got caught up in a bad situation. There was something really likable about the main character and the other characters were fun too. Not massively flashed out but definitely fun none the less. 

This book also includes original art work scattered throughout and this was a really nice touch. It was interesting to see if the pictures you formed in your head were the same as the authors interpretation and it was another fun element that definitely added to the story. 

Overall I enjoyed this one. It was fun and fast paced with some interesting elements that really added to the story. This isn't a full on thriller full of twists and turns and you may be able to work out the murder before the end, although I didn't, but it is an interesting story with just enough air of mystery to keep you reading until the end.

Overall Rating (3.5*)