Book Review: Book of Fire – Michelle Kenney

Book Review: Book of Fire – Michelle Kenney

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Series:
Book of Fire #1
Release Date: August 27th 2017
Publisher: HQ Digital
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon
Source: I received an E-ARC of this via Netgalley
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Life outside the domes is not possible. At least that’s what Insiders are told.

Twins Eli and Talia shouldn’t exist. They’re Outsiders.

Their home is a secret. Their lives are a secret. Arafel is a secret.

An unexpected forest raid forces Talia into a desperate mission to rescue her family while protecting the sacred Book of Arafel from those who would use it as a weapon. As Talia and her life long friend Max enter the dome, she makes some unexpected discoveries, and allies, in the form of rugged Insider August, that will change the course of her life forever.

She’ll stop at nothing to save her family but will she sacrifice her heart in the process?

The Fire Sermon meets Gladiator in this brilliant YA debut.

 

Review

book cover - 2019-04-17T214902.332This is a vivid and wonderfully written dystopian fantasy. The one thing that I really adored about Book of Fire is the imaginative setting and exciting plot. After a nuclear war, only those who live inside the dome are supposed to exist, but Talia and her family exist on the outside, and they thrive in the natural environment. When part of her family are captured, Thalia has to venture into the dome to save the ones she love. But all is not as it seems inside the domes, and she has some tough choices to make in order to survive and find her way out. I really loved the idea for this book. On one side the outsiders, those living in harmony with nature, living in treehouses and working with the land. On the other those that used technology to live an advanced and clinical life.

Book of Fire is a really interesting read, and it puts forth some really interesting questions about the way we live and the advancements of technology – just because we can doesn’t mean we should. The plot was well paced, with plenty of mystery and action to keep the reader intrigued. There were a few times when I just couldn’t put the book down, so desperate was I to know what was coming next. The world building is also superb, laying down the foundations and ideas well, without dumping all the information on the reader.

The characters in Book of Fire were also fantastically written. Thalia who will stop at nothing to get her family back, her wise caring grandfather and my personal favourite is definitely the mysterious August, he’s part of the elite inside the dome but he isn’t all that he seems. I thought the characters felt very human, the make mistakes and stupid decisions, they aren’t perfect all rounded people. These excellent characters are really what made the book for me and I was rooting for them almost from the get go. Book of Fire is a fantastic read and I really can’t wait to find out what’s next in store.
4 stars

Blog Tour: The Lives Before Us – Juliet Conlin

Blog Tour: The Lives Before Us – Juliet Conlin

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Release Date:
March 28th 2019
Publisher: Black and White
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

A beautifully written, sweeping story of survival, community and love…

It it April 1939, and, in Berlin and Vienna, Esther and Kitty face a brutal choice. Flee Europe, or face the ghetto, incarceration, death.

Shanghai… They’ve heard it whispered that Shanghai might offer refuge. And so, on a crowded ocean liner, these women encounter each other for the first time.

Kitty has been lured to the other side of the world with promises of luxury, love and marriage. But when her Russian fiancé reveals his hand, she’s left to scratch a vulnerable living in Shanghai’s nightclubs and dark corners. Meanwhile, Esther and her daughter shelter in a house of widows until Aaron, a hot-headed former lover, brings fresh hope of survival.

Then, as the Japanese army enters the fray and violence mounts, the women are thrown together in Shanghai’s most desperate times. Together they must fight a future for the lives that will follow theirs.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-09T224206.829I absolutely adored Juliet Conlin’s The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days so I was incredibly excited to pick up her newest release, The Lives Before Us. Set in 1939 the story follows three characters – Esther, Kitty and Yì as they attempt to escape from the violence and death that is spreading across the world at this dark moment in history. It is a powerful and emotional story that I found difficult to put down.

This is definitely the kind of story that sticks with you long after you’re finished reading. The story is told from the differing perspectives of the three characters who are each dealing with their own issues and struggles. They experience the horrors and hardships of a world at war but the story also focuses very much on the ideas of friendship and family at a time when so many are being persecuted.

I really liked all three characters – Kitty who is going to meet a fiance whom she discovers is already married, Yì is a young Chinese boy who has been badly treated all his life and Esther who is trying to escape persecution and protect her daughter. Each character brought a really unique perspective and they blended well to create a compelling tale.

I really enjoyed Conlin’s writing style in her previous novel and if possible I loved it even more in this book. It was so easy to sink into the book and be swept along in the story of these characters. The book was well paced and definitely gave me the opportunity to gain more knowledge about life during that time period. I also really liked the setting for this story – Shanghai – Conlin’s writing really brought it to life and it was fascinating reading about a place I know so little about.

The Lives Before Us is a gorgeously written, touching tale that fans of historical fiction will absolutely adore. If you’ve read The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner, you’re definitely going to love this too.
4 stars
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Blog Tour: Star Crossed – Minnie Darke

Blog Tour: Star Crossed – Minnie Darke

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Release Date:
March 5th 2019
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 387
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Why rely on fate when you can rewrite the stars?

When Justine Carmichael (Sagittarius, aspiring journalist and sceptic) bumps into her old friend Nick Jordan (Aquarius, struggling actor and true believer) it could be by change.Or perhaps it’s written in the stars.

Justine works at the Alexandria Park Star – and Nick, she now learns, relies on the magazine’s astrology column to guide him in life.

Looking for a way to get Nick’s attention, Justine has the idea of making a few small alterations to ‘Aquarius’ before it goes to print.

It’s only a horoscope, after all. What harm could changing it do?

Review

book cover - 2019-04-03T105924.120Star Crossed follows the story of two childhood friends – Justine and Nick. Whilst working working at the Alexandria Park Star Justine finds out that Nick is using an astrology column to help make decisions in life, hoping to reconnect with him she makes some changes to the column before it goes to print causing a chain reaction of events.

Star Crossed is such a sweet and fun story! I completely found myself falling in love with these characters. This book was so easy to fall into and I was completely swept up in seeing if Justine and Nick would end up together. I’m a massive fan of the ‘childhood friends reconnecting’ trope and it is done so well in this book. This is the kind of trope you see a lot in books but it felt like a fresh take and really got me rooting for these two. Both characters were well developed and I loved this unique idea of a love story centred around horoscopes.

Star Crossed is set in Australia and I thought it was the perfect setting for this brilliantly written story. There are plenty of moments that had me laughing and I loved seeing not only how Nick and Justine’s story developed but also the effect that changing the horoscope has on other people too. It’s an incredibly charming tale and it weaved the themes of fate and love incredibly well. If you’re a fan of movies like Love Actually this is definitely going to be one for you.

The chapters also follow the star signs and I really liked the subtle ways that this was incorporated into the story. It made it totally different to any romance story I’ve read before and I loved the overall structure of the book. I have also completely adore the beautiful cover that fits so well with the story.

Star Crossed is cleverly written and I really liked Darke’s writing style, the story easily flowed and it was the perfect easy read over an afternoon. This is definitely the kind of sweet and enjoyable story you want for a spring weekend or a summer holiday. If you’re looking for a heartwarming tale with characters that will melt your heart, Star Crossed should definitely be your next read.
4 stars

Book Review: The Near Witch – V. E. Schwab

Book Review: The Near Witch – V. E. Schwab

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Release Date:
March 12th 2019
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 354
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-24T180513.572This is the rerelease of Victoria Schwab’s debut novel featuring an all new short story titled The Ash Born Boy. The story is a dark and atmospheric tale that follows Lexi a young girl living in the small town of Near. The town is extremely isolated so when a stranger comes to visit the villagers become very unsettled. Soon after children begin disappearing from their beds and the mysterious stranger is instantly blamed for it. Lexi believes the stranger is innocent, but will she be able to prove it?

This was such a gripping read! I have fast become a fan of V. E. Schwab and I was so looking forward to reading her debut novel. Though it has been reprinted it has not been edited or changed since the original publication and it was fascinating to see how her writing has grown from this book to Vengeful and City of Ghosts.

The Near Witch is a story full of magic, mystery and danger. It kept me reading long after I’d planned to put the book down and I completely fell in love with Lexi and her sister Wren. She’s determined to do what she thinks is right (regardless of what her uncle thinks), she stands up for herself and she’ll do anything to protect her sister. The story unfolds beautifully and the plot is well written with an air of Neil Gaiman around it.

The creepy atmospheric setting is really brought to life in Schwab’s elegant writing and I could almost feel the icy wind of on the moor. While I really enjoyed this book it didn’t grab me as much as some of the authors other work but it was still a hugely fascinating read. The additionally short story too was a brilliant look at the back story of the visiting stranger. If you’re a fan of Victoria Schwab or you like magical tales full of atmosphere, I’d highly recommend this one!
4 stars

Book Review: Prisoner of Ice and Snow – Ruth Lauren

Book Review: Prisoner of Ice and Snow – Ruth Lauren

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Series:
Prisoner of Ice and Snow #1
Release Date: September 7th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-28T230803.617This is a beautifully written story about the friendship between two sisters. It’s an engaging, enjoyable story, and one I think a lot of people will really love. The plot is full of twists and turns and has that perfect blend of action and plot that fantasy fans will just love.

The main character Valor is a brave, determined young lady, and she’ll do anything to help her sister – even commit a crime. I admired her strength and courage, she’s a wonderful leading lady and I think she would be a fantastic role model for younger children reading A Prisoner of Ice and Snow. There are a few smaller characters that I would like to get to know as well as Valor, but perhaps that will come along later in the series.

The prison that Valor and her sister end up in is certainly a horrible one, and they depictions of the different settings – most notably the prison – is certainly vivid and well laid out. At only two hundred and eighty eight pages the book is quite a quick read, but there is plenty to keep you guessing and wanting more. If you’re looking for a fun enjoyable MG fantasy, Prisoner of Ice and Snow is definitely a book to pick up. I for one am particularly looking forward to seeing what’s next in store for the series!
4 stars

Book Review: A Pocketful of Crows – Joanne M. Harris

Book Review: A Pocketful of Crows – Joanne M. Harris

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Release Date:
19th October 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 240
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.
(The Child Ballads, 295)

So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.

Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-14T052617.195I was so excited to read this little beauty because I loved The Gospel of Loki and have always wanted to read more of Joanne Harris’s books. The story follows a young woman who lives in the woods, She has magical powers which she loses when she falls in love with a local lord’s son. Based on The Child Ballads, this book is beautifully written in a lyrical and poetic style.

The book is a short one and can probably be read in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down, The story is fairy tale like in nature, but in many ways more dark and twisted. The story is full to the brim with magic and folklore, and makes for a breath taking read. The story is told in the space of a year, encompassing birth and death, love and revenge. It might only be a couple of hundred pages long but it contains a lot within those beautiful pages. I’d love to see Joanne Harris write more of these beautiful stories.

If you’ve read any of her other books, you are bound to love A Pocketful of Crows. The book is also beautifully designed, which made me fall in love with it even more. If you’re looking for a book that will capture your imagination and leave you wanting more, A Pocketful of Crows is definitely the book you need.
4 stars

Book Review: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One – Amanda Lovelace

Book Review: The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One – Amanda Lovelace

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Series:
Women are Some Kind of Magic #3
Release Date: March 5th 2019
Publisher: Andrews McNeel Publishing
Pages: 208
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was approved for an E-ARC via Netgalley
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet and USA TODAY bestselling author Amanda Lovelace presents the mermaid’s voice returns in this one — the third and final installment in her “women are some kind of magic” series, featuring a foreword from Lang Leav and 13 guest poems from leading voices in poetry such as Nikita Gill, KY Robinson, and Orion Carloto.

The mermaid is known for her siren song, luring bedroom-eyed sailors to their demise. However, beneath these misguided myths are tales of escapism and healing, which Lovelace weaves throughout this empowering collection of poetry, taking you on a journey from the sea to the stars. They tried to silence her once and for all, but the mermaid’s voice returns in this one.

Review

book sdsPoetry isn’t something that I read an awful lot of and it’s definitely something I want to get into more. I’ve read the first two instalments in Amanda Lovelace’s Women Are Some Kind of Magic series and was incredibly excited about reading this powerful and inspiring third book.

Much like the previous books, the poems Lovelace creates are so emotional and raw. The poems are written in a very minimal way, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t pack a punch. So many of her poems have given me food for thought and I definitely felt the same with The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One.

While I did really enjoy this book, it did feel a little bit disconnected from the two I read previously. I didn’t connect with this one as much as I did The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One and for me it didn’t feel as powerful. Though still a thought provoking and timely read, I definitely preferred the first two books in this trilogy.

It’s been fascinating to read Lovelace’s work as she has grown and honed her craft with each book, It was also interesting to read the guest poems from a variety of guest poets. Some of these I liked more than others and I think this might be part of the reason I didn’t love this book as much.

Overall the Women Are Some Kind of Magic series is a hauntingly beautiful and thought provoking series and The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One is an excellent addition. If you’re a fan of poetry or interesting in feminist writing, this is a must read. I for one am excited to see what Amanda Lovelace does next.
4 stars