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

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
skyward tour graphic.jpg

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: The Smoke Thieves – Sally Green

Book Review: The Smoke Thieves – Sally Green

BOOK REVIEW (10)
Series:
The Smoke Thieves #1
Release Date: 3rd May 2018
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 512
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an ARC of this in an Illumicrate box.

Synopsis

A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

Review

This is my first time reading a book by Sally Green. I know loads of people read and loved her Half Bad series, but I haven’t had the chance to pick it up yet. I was therefore unsure what to expect with this book, but I thought it was an excellent start to what I’m sure is going to be a phenomenal series.

Untitled design (37)The book has been dubbed “Game of Thrones for a younger audience” and I can totally see the similarities. The world building is good, with this wide world full of magic and different kingdoms. I loved the politics in this book, so many of the characters were scheming and vying for different things. There were plenty of battles and fighting and the book was a real page turner.

The story really sucked me in and I raced through the final few chapters. The story follows five main characters (a princess, a soldier, a traitor, a hunter and a thief) and each chapter alternates point of view for them. Although I liked all the characters I did feel like five was maybe too many. There were certain ones I preferred over others – I really liked Catherine and Ambrose, but was less interested in March. The characters were well fleshed out and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they develop as the series continues.

The chapters are really short so it definitely made me say ‘oh just one more chapter’ until it was the wee hours of the morning. Fast paced and exciting, The Smoke Thieves is a fantasy book that you definitely don’t want to miss.
5 stars

Book Review: Legendary – Stephanie Garber

Book Review: Legendary – Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW (9)Series: Caraval #2
Release Date: May 29th 2018
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 432
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I picked up a signed edition at my local bookshop.

Synopsis

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

Review

I absolutely loved Caraval and Legendary was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. Legendary picks up right where Caraval finishes, although this time the focus is Scarlet’s sister Tella. The book is full of magic and mystery and I raced through this book, I just couldn’t put it down.

Untitled design (36)The second book in the series is much more complex, as this time it’s even more difficult to tell what is real and what isn’t. The book was well paced and I enjoyed the glimpses of characters from the first book as well as the introduction of new characters. I did feel the book was a little too romance heavy, but overall I thought it was a really terrific read.

The world building and character development are truly excellent and I definitely felt that Stephanie Garber upped the ante this time around. Tella is a really fascinating character, she’s wilful and stubborn and has to make some really difficult decisions in the story. Although I preferred Caraval, I definitely felt like Tella was a more interesting protagonist.

Legendary is full of magic, excitement and beautiful writing. If you loved the first one then you will not be disappointed. If you haven’t had the chance to pick it up yet you should definitely do it now – plenty of time to binge read both books before Finale is released.

5 stars

Book Review: Easy Prey – Catherine Lo

Book Review: Easy Prey – Catherine Lo

BOOK REVIEW (4)
Release Date: October 16th 2018
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 352
Find It On: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was given an ARC of this book at YALC.

Synopsis

Secrets and revenge run rampant in the Internet age—Easy Prey keeps you guessing until the final reveal.

Only three students had access to a teacher’s racy photos before they went viral. There’s Mouse, a brainy overachiever so desperate to escape his father and go to MIT that he would do almost anything, legal or not. Then there’s Drew, the star athlete who can get any girl’s number—and private photos—with his charm but has a history of passing those photos around. And finally there’s Jenna, a good girl turned rebel after her own shocking photos made the rounds at school last year, who is still waiting for justice. All three deny leaking the photos, but someone has to take the fall. This edgy whodunit tackles hot-button issues of sexting and gossip and will have readers tearing through the pages to reach the final reveal.

Review

Untitled design (11)Easy Prey is a perfect autumn read – it’s dark, mysterious and absolutely unputdownable.

The story follows three students who are accused of leaking racy photos of a teacher on Twitter. The three students are completely different – the geeky brainiac who is whizz with computers, the popular athlete and the good girl turned rebel after her own racy photos were leaked online. They all claim their innocent, but if they didn’t do it who did?

The one thing about psychological thrillers if that you can often tell what the ending is going to be, for that reason I don’t read too many thrillers, however with Easy Prey I would never have guessed the ending in a million years. It was an excellent twist and I definitely raced through this intense book because I was dying to know how it was going to end.

I really liked the characters. The story was told in alternating points of view with each of the three students and it was fascinating to see things play out from different perspectives – it definitely added to the mystery surrounding which one was guilty. The characters are much more than their stereotypes of the geek, jock and rebel girl and I loved that as the book continued you learned more and more about them. They are definitely morally grey characters and nothing is what it seems in this story. The book also really delves into the issues of leaked photos and privacy on the internet – something that really needs to be discussed more in books.

Easy Prey is absolutely a five star read for me. If you’re looking for something mysterious and fast paced, this book is perfect for cuddling up on a dark autumn night.

5 stars

Book Review: Ravencry – Ed McDonald

Book Review: Ravencry – Ed McDonald

Book Review (30)
Series: Raven’s Mark #2
Release Date: June 28th 2018
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 432
Find It On: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the book to review.

Synopsis

Four years have passed since Nall’s Engine drove the Deep Kings back across the Misery, but as they hurl fire from the sky, darker forces plots against the republic.

A new power is rising: a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady manifests in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power even as the city burns around them.

When Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached, an object of terrible power is stolen, and Galharrow and his Blackwings must once find out which of Valengrad’s enemies is responsible before they have a chance to use it.

To save Valengrad, Galharrow, Nenn and Tnota must venture to a darker, more twisted and more dangerous place than any they’ve walked before: the very heart of the Misery.

Review

 This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. If you saw my top picks of 2018 or indeed my rather rambling review of Blackwing (see it here), you’ll know I absolutely adored the first book in this series. After just a few pages I was completely hooked back into this series and if it’s possible, I loved Ravencry even more than Blackwing.

Ravencry picks up four years after the events of Blackwing. The book also contains a ‘previously on’ which I really appreciated to help remind me of exactly where all the characters were. The story is action packed as Galharrow and his rag tag band discover that someone has broken into Crowfoot’s vault, stealing something that the gang desperately need to get back.

The book features some of the characters that I loved from the first book (particularly Nenn), as well as some fascinating new characters. I particularly liked the new additions of Amaira and Vailya. Ed McDonald does an excellent job creating these complex characters that you can’t get enough of. One of the things I love about this series is that there isn’t always a clear right or wrong answer, McDonald weaves a multi-layered story that I definitely couldn’t put down. It’s full of action yes, but also humour, emotion and friendship. Ravencry deserves all the stars and is without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2018.

Much like Blackwing the book is gory, full of the sights, sounds and smells of battle and living in a grimy city. This brings the setting to life and draws the reader in. Ravencry is unputdownable, and the best kind of page turner. If you read Blackwing and loved it, you’re in for a real treat with book two. This fantasy series is never predictable will keep you wanting more, your only problem will be waiting for book number three.
5 stars