Book Review: Stain – A. G. Howard

Book Review: Stain – A. G. Howard

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Release Date:
15th January 2019
Publisher: Abrams Books
Pages: 512
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins…

After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest … disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

Review

book cover (75)This is my first book from A. G. Howard – I have always wanted to read Splintered but haven’t gotten around to it yet – so when I heard about this it immediately went on my TBR. A Gothic fairy tale retelling of The Princess and the Pea? Where do I sign up? I was completely sucked in by that beautiful cover and the synopsis. After just a few chapters I completely fell under the spell of this beautifully written book.

Stain has that gorgeous, lush fairy tale setting and it was so easy to fall into the story of Lyra. She’s a fascinating protagonist – a princess unable to speak or make a sound. I really liked seeing things from her perspective as she grows and survives the trials she has to get through. She’s a strong protagonist and it was so interesting seeing her gain more power and strength. The tale also features a whole host of supporting characters that really added to the story. Vesper was also one of my favourites. He’s the mysterious and intriguing Prince of Night and I really enjoyed the interactions between him and Lyra.

As you can imagine the story does obviously feature a romance but the romance is definitely something of a slow burn – it doesn’t have that insta-love that so many fairy tale stories do. I really liked this as it felt more natural to watch the relationship develop.

Featuring excellent world building and a whole host of lovable characters, Stain is definitely one of my new favourite reads and I’m so looking forward to reading more from A. G. Howard.
5 stars

Book Review: The Wicked King – Holly Black

Book Review: The Wicked King – Holly Black

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Series:
The Folk of the Air #2
Release Date: 8th January 2019
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy from my local Waterstones.

Synopsis

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Review

This book gave me such a book hangover I’m not sure I will ever enjoy another book again.

book cover (13)I’m pretty sure that’s all the review you need but I’ll attempt to go into a little bit more detail. The Wicked King is the second instalment in the Folk of the Air series. This is already a massively popular series and book one – The Cruel Prince – was on everyone’s best of 2018 list (including mine). Going into The Wicked King I had a certain amount of trepidation – what if it’s all filler and suffers from second book syndrome?

Well that absolutely was not the case. The Wicked King is unputdownable. The stakes are higher, the plot twists are earth shattering and it is without a doubt one of my all time favourite books. Holly Black has created this immensely lush and beautiful world that is just a dream to be in. The characters are so complex and fascinating – Jude and Cardan are everything but there’s also a whole host of secondary characters who fascinate me so much. Jude is such a fascinating protagonist, fighting for what she wants and I loved seeing things from her perspective.

There’s plenty of action and excitement in The Wicked King too – not to mention a dash of romance. If you’re a fan of twisty fantasy this is definitely a series to pick up and binge read immediately – if you’ve already raced through The Cruel Prince then The Wicked King is worth the wait and definitely needs to be your next read.
5 stars

Book Review: Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron

Book Review: Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron

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Release Date:
22nd March 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillian
Pages: 272
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis

When angels start falling from the sky, it seems like the world is ending. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived.

As the world goes wild for angels, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand this obsession and, still reeling from her mother’s recent death and the sudden disappearance of her ex-girlfriend, she’s determined to stay out of it.

Then something incredible happens: an angel lands right at Jaya’s feet – and it’s alive …

Review

book cover (96)I recently did a 24 hour readathon and this was one of the books I was hoping to get to. After reading just a few pages I was absolutely hooked and I’m pretty sure I barely even breathed as I devoured this beautiful and original book.

This is such an important book and it deals with so many issues. It deals with grief in a really fascinating way as Jaya and her family attempt to recover from her mother’s death. It also deals with friendship, sexuality, race, family relationships and lots more in between. I felt that Out of the Blue was fantastically written, with real and realistic characters. I loved our main character Jaya, there’s so much character development as she finds this angel, meets Allie and her brother Calum, and attempts to understand her place in the world.

One of the things that really made this book for me was the setting. Growing up and living not too far from Edinburgh made this book a must read for me. I loved seeing the familiar setting and the portrayal of the crazy festival season. I thought Sophie Cameron did a wonderful job of bringing Edinburgh to life, as well as making it believable that angels could crash land in the city. When I read the synopsis I wasn’t sure that falling angels would be believable but Cameron’s world-building is superb and powerful.

Out of the Blue is one of those books that stays with you even after you’ve finished reading it. Vivid, beautiful and imaginative, this is definitely one of my favourite books of 2018.
5 stars

Book Review: Between the Blade and the Heart – Amanda Hocking

Book Review: Between the Blade and the Heart – Amanda Hocking

BOOK REVIEW (81).pngSeries: Valkyrie #1
Release Date: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillian
Pages: 319
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.75 stars

Synopsis

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. The balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

As Malin wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought, she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue-eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. Malin, along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend, must decide where her loyalties lie…and whether helping Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and to her heart.

Review

Amanda Hocking is an author that has been on my radar for a long time, I own a few of her books but I’ve never gotten around to reading them. I know so many people love the Trylle Trilogy so I was definitely looking forward to giving this a go. I loved this fast paced and exciting read and I am now definitely going to be catching up on all of Amanda’s books that I missed.

book cover (81)I always enjoy books with Norse mythology and Between the Blade and the Heart is chalk full of myths and legends. I loved the level of detail that Hocking put in, the story feels well plotted out and well researched. I also loved the dark, dank setting of a world full of demons and creatures. The world building is an odd mix, with run down buildings and dingy bars but also hovering bikes and other technology.

The book of course has plenty of action and fighting scenes, but there’s also a fair bit of romance too. I’m normally not that big a fan of romance heavy books but I felt the romance unfolded naturally and it wasn’t too in your face. I also really liked the characters. Our main protagonist Malin is a Valkyrie in training, learning her trade as well as school and dealing with a less than affectionate mother, she makes for a really fascinating character. She’s strong and brash and often tends to have her mind on things other than the end of the world. I thought she was a great flawed and likeable character. Joining her is a cast of secondary characters who were well fleshed out and definitely added an interesting mix to the story.

I really enjoyed this fun book and ended up reading it really quickly. If you like your books fast paced and full of action, you’re bound to enjoy Between the Blade and the Heart. Your only problem will be waiting for the release of book two!
5 stars

Book Review: Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart

Book Review: Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart

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Release Date:
September 5th 2017
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 267
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was sent a copy of this book of this book through ReadersFirst
Rating: 2.75 stars

Synopsis

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Review

Genuine Fraud is the newest title from E. Lockhart, who is well known for the YA thriller We Were Liars. At one point I was seeing We Were Liars everywhere, I think around the time it was featured in the Zoella Book Club. I bought a copy for my kindle and read the book in a single sitting but I wasn’t entirely sure it was my cup of tea. After hearing about Genuine Fraud I thought the premise sounded really interesting and decided to give it a shot.

book cover (80)The one thing I found about both We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud is that they were pretty quick reads. Genuine Fraud is just over 250 pages and tells the story of two young women, Imogen and Jule and their lives over the course of their friendship.The story is told in a series of different chapters which jump in time. I found this really grating, especially when I put the book down for a while and went back to it. I imagine some people will love this non-traditional way of telling a story but it wasn’t really for me.

The story is an intense one and there are plenty of twists and turns. Like We Were Liars there were some shock reveals that I just didn’t see coming and would never have guessed in a million years. In that respect I enjoyed this book because quite frequently I find myself guessing the twists before they happen.

I won’t say too much about the plot because I don’t really want to give the story away – this is one of those books that is best to go into without knowing much about. The characters are interesting and well portrayed but I found it difficult to find any sort of likeable quality in any of them. Each was working to their own desires and motivations and while it made for some interesting perspectives, I didn’t really feel attached to any of them.

While I didn’t love this book Genuine Fraud is an interesting read and one I think loads of people will enjoy, especially if you’re a fan of psychological thrillers with a twist.
3 stars

Book Review: Only Child – Rhiannon Navin

Book Review: Only Child – Rhiannon Navin

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Release Date:
February 8th 2018
Publisher: Mantle
Pages: 306
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

We all went to school that Tuesday like normal. Not all of us came home.

When the unthinkable happens, six-year-old Zach is at school. Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, he is too young to understand that life will never be the same again.

Afterwards, the once close-knit community is left reeling. Zach’s dad retreats. His mum sets out to seek revenge. Zach, scared, lost and confused, disappears into his super-secret hideout to try to make sense of things. Nothing feels right – until he listens to his heart . . .

But can he remind the grown-ups how to love again?

Narrated by Zach, Only Child is full of heart; a real rollercoaster of a read that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.

Review

This is a brilliantly written debut focusing on a horrific school shooting and the rippling aftermath that the event has on the local community. It is powerful, heartbreaking and incredibly relevant given the current news and media. The book really hones in on the community and the lasting effects that this single event can have.

book cover (71)The book is told from the perspective of young Zach, who is a powerful and fascinating protagonist. Navin does a fantastic job of bringing him to life, Zach along with the rest of the characters feel very realistic and complex, each dealing with their own complex emotions and grief as they deal with all that has happened. I definitely felt myself becoming attached to Zach, you feel for this clever young boy as he retreats into his books and drawings, while his parents attempt to cope with their grief.

I also found it fascinating that Zach chose to represent his emotions with colours. He’s a bright and fascinating character and seeing him bring people together was part of the reason I loved this book so much. It is excellently paced and the writing style definitely hooks you in from the get go. It might be a difficult topic but it is absolutely worth while.

This book is by no means an easy read. It is hard hitting and emotional, but it is one that you have to read. It stayed with me long after I finished reading it and I found myself thinking about it throughout the day afterwards. As a debut it is stunning and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what Rhiannon Navin has in store next.
4 stars

Blog Tour: The Fork, the Witch & the Worm – Christopher Paolini

Blog Tour: The Fork, the Witch & the Worm – Christopher Paolini

book review (76)Series: Tales From Algaesia #1
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: 1st January 2019
Pages:
288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

A wanderer and a cursed child. Spells and magic. And dragons, of course.

Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia. It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon’s own unfolding adventure. Included is an excerpt from the memoir of the unforgettable witch and fortune-teller Angela the herbalist . . . penned by Angela Paolini, the inspiration for the character, herself! Relish the incomparable imagination of Christopher Paolini in this thrilling new collection of stories based in the world of the Inheritance Cycle.

Review

The Inheritance Cycle is a series that is very close to my heart. I read it multiple times growing up and I have long been awaiting more books from Christopher Paolini. I was so surprised and excited to find out that we would be returning to Alagaesia with this beautiful collection of short stories. After reading just a few pages I felt immediately transported into this world that I loved so much as a child. I honestly never wanted to stop reading.

The book is divided up into three parts (the fork, the witch and the worm), with the book cover (69)second part of the book being a memoir of the witch Angela. This part was particularly intriguing because it was written by Angela Paolini who was the inspiration for that character in the original books.

I enjoyed all three parts of the book and it was wonderful to catch glimpses and hear more about characters that I already adored so much. Each story provides a really unique perspective – The Fork follows a child narrator, The Witch Angela’s own memoir and my personal favourite The Worm is a tale told from the perspective of an Urgal. These stories are really memorable and are a wonderful addition to this much loved series.

The stories are beautifully written and really transport you to this magical setting that fans of Eragon will know and love. Finding out what Eragon and Saphira have been up to since the Inheritance finished was also fascinating and if you’re a fan of the books then this is definitely not to be missed. The mix of old and new characters really brought the story back to life for me and I am honestly just dying for more from Christopher Paolini already.
4 stars
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