Tome Topple TBR!

Tome Topple TBR!

BOOK REVIEW (22)
This is my first time participating in the tome topple readathon. This time it’s running from 16th of November until the 29th. The only rule is to read those tomes over 500 pages that have been lurking on your TBR shelf! I actually have tons of great big books on my TBR so I’ve picked a few books that I definitely want to try and read over the two weeks and then hopefully I might get to a couple more. There are five challenges for the readathon:
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1. Read more than one tome

I’m hopefully going to fufill this challenge by completing the other ones and then I’ll have read more than one book but I’m definitely hoping to get to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee during the readathon!

2. Read a graphic novel (still over 500 pages!)

This is the one challenge I’m not participating in. I looked through all the graphic novels I own and not a single one was over 500 pages and I am not planning to buy any so I’m missing this one out!

Untitled design (72)3. Read a tome that is part of a series
For this I thought I would pick up Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Ami Kaufman. I’ve wanted to read this for ages and although its nearly 600 pages I still think it will be a pretty quick and addictive read.

4. Buddy read a tome
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I’m buddy reading a book with my boyfriend and for this challenge we’re going to read American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This is one of the few Neil Gaiman books I’ve never read and I’m also dying to watch the TV series so hopefully we can get through this massive book during the readathon.
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5. Read an adult novel

I’ve got a few options for this one but I think I might reread Red Sister by Mark Lawrence and if I have time pick up Grey Sister in time for Holy Sister coming out next year. That way I can be all caught up!

So those are the books I’m going to attempt for tome topple! Are you participating in the readathon? If you are let me know what you’re planning to read and if you’ve read any of these do let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill

Book Review: The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill

BOOK REVIEW (20)
Release Date: May 3rd 2018
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: My boyfriend bought me a copy of this book.

Synopsis

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

Review

I must admit that part of what drew me to this book was that absolutely stunning cover art. After reading the blurb and finding out it was a feminist little mermaid retelling I was desperate to pick up a copy. This story is beautifully written and has stuck with me well after finishing it. It was dark, disturbing and one of my favourite retellings ever.

Untitled design (69)I’ve never read the Hans Christian Andersen version of this story but I must say it is a far cry from the happily ever after of the Disney version. This story is a brutal one. The world of the mermaids is a tough, patriarchal society in which the women are expected to stay quiet and do as they’re told. Gaia has no say in her life, her future or who she will marry. Her father is a cruel and vile man, who plays Gaia off against her sisters. This world is ugly and dark but O’Neill draws you in deeper and deeper to this engrossing story.

I thought Gaia was an excellent protagonist and I liked seeing the world from her perspective. O’Neill’s world building is superb and I found it easy to read The Surface Breaks and then sink back in a few hours later. The writing is gripping, the plot is really engaging and it definitely brings a fresh perspective to an old tale. If you haven’t picked up The Surface Breaks yet, you definitely need to soon because this one is not to be missed.
5 stars

Book Review: Witchsign – Den Patrick

Book Review: Witchsign – Den Patrick

BOOK REVIEW (18)
Series: Ashen Torment #1
Release Date: 22nd May 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I pre-ordered this at my local Waterstones.

Synopsis

It has been seventy-five years since the dragons’ rule of fire and arcane magic over Vinkerveld was ended, and the Empire was born. Since, the tyrannical Synod has worked hard to banish all manifestations of the arcane across the lands.

However, children are still born bearing the taint of the arcane, known to all as witchsign. So each year the Emperor sends out his Vigilants across the continent to detect the arcane in these children. Those found tainted are taken, and never seen again. Steiner has always suspected his sister Kjellrunn of bearing witchsign. But when their father’s attempt to protect her from the Invigilation backfires, it is Steiner who is mistakenly taken. However it is not death which awaits Steiner, but an Academy where the children with witchsign learn to master their powers – some at the cost of their lives. Steiner is determined to escape the Academy and protect his sister from this fate.

But powerful enemies await him at every turn, and Steiner finds himself taken on a journey straight into the heart of the Empire’s deepest secrets, which will force him to reconsider everything he has known about witchsign.

Review

I really loved Den Patrick’s The Erebus Sequence so I was really excited to pick up a copy of this brilliant sounding book. The cover is just gorgeous and it sounds like a captivating story. Witchsign is the kind of book that you want to read all the time, squeezing in a chapter on the commute, on a lunch break and any other possible time.

Untitled design (61)I adored the world of Witchsign. Patrick creates a really fascinating world and the bleak and desolate landscape really comes across in his writing. The magic system and world building are told in a really elegant way, we are told plenty of information without it being a knowledge dump right at the start. It creates a really rich tapestry of magic, dragons and the cruel control of the Empire.

The story is told in alternating POVs between Steiner and his sister Kjellrunn, and I loved both of them as main characters. It’s rare in books with differing POVs that I like both perspectives equally, but in Witchsign I was dying to know what was happening to both characters.

I really enjoyed Patrick’s writing style and I loved the idea that the Steiner as ‘the one chosen’ is actually chosen by mistake. The story was quick paced, full of action and I definitely grew attached to the mix of characters. In Witchsign Patrick has created an enticing world and I can’t wait to delve back in with book two.
5 stars

Book Review: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars – Yaba Badoe

Book Review: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars – Yaba Badoe

BOOK REVIEW (16)
Release Date: 7th March 2018
Publisher: Zephyr
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Sante isn’t sure where she comes from, but she has a recurring dream of escaping a shipwreck in a sea chest as a baby with her lifelong companion, golden eagle Priss. In the chest was an African bamboo flute, a drum and a dagger inlaid with diamonds. Sante was found and raised by Mama Rose, leader of a nomadic group of misfits and gypsies. They travel around contemporary southern Europe, living off-grid and performing circus tricks for money. Sante grows up alongside two twins, knife-thrower Cat and snake-charmer Cobra, whom she is in love with. During a performance in Cadiz, Sante recognises two men from her dream. They come after her to retrieve the treasures from the sea chest. Sante finds out that she is an Ashanti princess, whose parents probably perished in the shipwreck. After Cat rescues a beautiful red-haired girl called Scarlett from a gang, Mama Rose’s band are forced to flee the city. But Sante and Cobra stay behind, determined to find out more about her family and where she came from.

Review

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a magical realism novel that follows fourteen year old Sante and her friends as they live off the grid and travel around Europe. Sante has a recurring dream about a shipwreck and longs to know the meaning of her dreams and what really happened to her parents.

Untitled design (52)I really wanted to love this book, I thought it sounded like a really fascinating book and I loved the blend of real life and magic but in truth it fell a little flat for me. I thought the cover was stunning and the story was a wonderful mix of magic and folklore, but for I couldn’t connect with the characters and the plot felt a little chaotic for me.

Badoe has a really beautiful writing style and this was the part of the book I enjoyed the most. I liked our protagonist Sante well enough and she undergoes a massive amount of character development in the book but I just didn’t fall in love with the story the way I was really hoping to. I liked seeing her relationships with the rest of the circus troupe – how they look after each other and become such a close knit family.

The story highlights a lot of really important issues, focusing on human trafficking, refugees, friendship and family. The plot is pretty quick paced and the world building was interesting. Overall this book is a fascinating debut and I definitely want to read more from this author but was a bit on the disappointing side. If you’re a fan of magical realism or quick paced stories, this one might be just what you’re looking for.

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Blog Tour: Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

Blog Tour: Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

BOOK REVIEW (15)
Series: Skyward #1
Release Date: 6th November 2018
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 528
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

Review

Skyward is the first in an all new Science Fiction trilogy from acclaimed author Brandon Sanderson. Now I’m going to hang my head in shame and say I’m not totally familiar with Brandon Sanderson’s back catalogue. I own quite a few of his books and I recently read and loved Snapshot, but other than that I don’t know too much about his books. I can safely say that after just the first few chapters of Skyward I was planning to read everything he’s ever written.

Untitled design (51)This book was just… wow. It was honestly like someone had asked me ‘what would be your perfect sci-fi book?’ and Skyward was the end result. I couldn’t put this book down and I didn’t want to put it down. I loved everything about this book. Brandon Sanderson is a master writer, weaving the many layers of the plot seamlessly together. The story starts off slowly, giving you the chance to learn about the world and set up for some of my new favourite characters of all time. Spensa is a magnificent protagonist. She’s brave and strong and determined to reach her dream of becoming a starfighter pilot. She’s an outcast who finds new friendships and she shows an immense amount of character growth as she changes from a brass and cocky student to someone who knows the value of friendship. I definitely grew attached to her and her ragtag bunch of flightmates. As the story ramped up and the pacing quickened, I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen to them next.

Brandon Sanderson finds the perfect balance with this book. The characters are well crafted and there were so many beings Spensa that I adored. The engaging plot and the detailed world building combine to make a story that you aren’t going to forget in a hurry. If you’re a fan of Brandon Sanderson’s work already you will no doubt adore this book and if you’re a little late to the party like me, this will leave you desperate for more of his books.
5 stars
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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling

BOOK REVIEW (12)
Series: Harry Potter #6
Release Date: July 16th 2005
Publisher: Bloomsbury Books
Pages: 607
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I reread my falling apart hardback for the millionth time.

Synopsis

It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the windowpanes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys’ house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can’t quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Dursleys’ of all places. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks’ time? Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts has already got off to an unusual start, as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine…

Review

Harry Potter is one of those series that I find incredibly hard to review. It’s so loved and means so much to so many people that I’m never quite sure how to do it justice. Rereading the Harry Potter books as an adult has been a really fascinating experience. I am a child of Harry Potter, I read the books when I was in school, went to the midnight releases and basically lived and breathed the HP universe most of my childhood life so to read them again grown up is quite nerve wracking. I was scared I wouldn’t enjoy them or they wouldn’t live up to the expectations of my childhood self. In all honesty it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, rereading them as an adult has really made me notice so many things I doubt I would have picked up on as a child.

Untitled design (39)Rereading the series has definitely made me re-evaluate which books are my favourite. I have always been a stalwart Prisoner of Azkaban fan, but the later books where things get darker and more complex are definitely more of my preference as an adult. I loved returning to Hogwarts and seeing the immense character depth and the complexity of the plot. It was at times familiar and completely new as I read parts of the story that I completely did not remember – there’s so much missed out from the movies so perhaps that’s why there were so many parts that felt almost new to me.

Harry Potter is still without a doubt one of my all time favourite series. The world building is brilliant and it’s so easy just to become completely absorbed in these beautiful books. There are some truly lovely moments of friendship and family and some truly heartbreaking moments too. I honestly can’t wait to continue on and read book seven immediately!
5 stars

Book Review: My German Brother – Chico Buraque

Book Review: My German Brother – Chico Buraque

BOOK REVIEW (11)
Release Date: 5th April 2018
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 207
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Ciccio already has many problems: romantic failure, an older brother who seems intent on breaking the heart of every beautiful woman in São Paulo, a distant and larger-than-life father. When Ciccio finds, among the many of his father’s books that line the walls of their house, a troubling letter dated ‘December 21, 1931. Berlin’, his existential crisis only intensifies.

It seems that his father once had a child with another woman – a German son whose fate remains unclear. Ciccio sets out on a mission to locate his lost half-brother, and to win the respect of his father. But as Brazil’s military government cracks down on dissent, and rumours of arrests and disappearances spread, while Ciccio has been out looking for his German brother, he finds that he has taken his eye off his immediate family…

In writing My German Brother, acclaimed Brazilian novelist and musician Chico Buarque was driven by the desire to find out what happened to his own German half-brother – whether he survived the war in a bomb-ravaged Berlin, whether he had joined the ranks of the Hitler Youth. His novel has been a project of a lifetime, one that makes use of what happened, what might have happened, and pure imagination, in order to weave together the threads of narrative and arrive at a truth.

Review

Untitled design (38)This is a fascinating book about a young Brazilian man who discovers a letter suggesting that his father might have had another son whilst he was in Germany. The story follows his life as he becomes obsessed with this idea, imagining the life of his half brother.

The book was told in a really interesting way, My German Brother is an interesting come of age tale and one of the aspects I really enjoyed was that although the book is fiction it is partly based on the author’s life and his experience of finding out his father had a child in Germany. I found the idea so interesting as he imagined the endless possibilities of his brother’s life, especially at a time when Europe was dealing with the horrific events of the Second World War.

The author has a really great writing style and I loved some of the light-hearted aspects that counteracted some of the more heavy topics, they are quite a few sordid moments as well which I found a little off putting. Overall the book is a really fascinating read and at just over 200 pages it’s definitely worth picking up.
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