Blog Tour: The Caged Queen – Kirsten Ciccarelli

Blog Tour: The Caged Queen – Kirsten Ciccarelli

BOOK REVIEW (44)Series: Iskari #2
Release Date: 25th September 2018
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.

Synopsis

Once there were two sisters born with a bond so strong that it forged them together forever. When they were angry, mirrors shattered, and when they were happy, flowers bloomed. It was a magic they cherished—until the day a terrible accident took Essie’s life and trapped her soul in this world.

Dax—the heir to Firgaard’s throne—was responsible for the accident. Roa swore to hate him forever. But eight years later he returned, begging for her help. He was determined to dethrone his cruel father, under whose oppressive reign Roa’s people had suffered. Roa made him a deal: she’d give him the army he needed if he made her queen.

Together with Dax and his sister, Asha, Roa and her people waged war and deposed a tyrant. But now Asha is on the run, hiding from the price on her head. And Roa is an outlander queen, far from home and married to her enemy. Worst of all: Dax’s promises go unfulfilled. Roa’s people continue to suffer.

Then a chance to right every wrong arises—an opportunity for Roa to rid herself of this enemy king and rescue her beloved sister. During the Reliquishing, when the spirits of the dead are said to return, Roa can reclaim her sister for good.

All she has to do is kill the king.

Review

I was so excited for the release of The Caged Queen. I absolutely adored the world Ciccarelli created in The Last Namsara and this second instalment definitely didn’t disappoint.

book cover (19)Fast paced and action packed, The Caged Queen follows a different point of view character this time around. We also get to stay characters from the previous instalment and it was great to revisit the characters I’ve grown attached to. They are well developed and it’s great to see them grow and develop as the story continues on. One of the things I love about this story is that the characters are scheming, looking to take power or advance their cause. It makes for a really interesting set of dynamics and something that Ciccarelli does incredibly well. It was also great to get more history about Roa and the other characters from the series.

The Caged Queen has plenty of political intrigue and mixing this with the history and backstory for the world and the character makes for a really engrossing tapestry. The Last Namsara was more action based, with dragons and fighting whilst this instalment was much more politics focused, bringing in the trials and schemes of court life. I really love the author’s writing style and think that this is a really fantastic new fantasy series. Ciccarelli has done a magnificent job with this second instalment and I’m so excited to see how the story is going to continue in The Sky Weaver.
5 stars

 

Book Review: The Way Past Winter – Kiran Milwood Hargrave

Book Review: The Way Past Winter – Kiran Milwood Hargrave

BOOK REVIEW (50)
Release Date: 4th October 2018
Pages: 256
Publisher: Chicken House Books
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I won an ARC of this book at YALC.

Synopsis

Mila and her sisters live with their brother Oskar in a small forest cabin in the snow. One night, a fur-clad stranger arrives seeking shelter for himself and his men. But by the next morning, they’ve gone – taking Oskar with them. Fearful for his safety, Mila and her sisters set out to bring Oskar back – even it means going north, crossing frozen wild-lands to find a way past an eternal winter.

Review

This is the eagerly anticipated new book from Kiran Milwood Hargrave, author of the stunning The Girl of Ink and Stars. I started reading this as soon as I received a copy and I read it in a single train journey, it’s a magical absorbing tale and one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.

book cover (25)The story follows a family who live in an everlasting winter. The scene is set beautifully and the icy landscape is lushly described in the book. I could almost feel the icy winds and see the frozen forest that Mila and her family live. The story definitely felt reminiscent of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and if anything that made me love this book even more.

Much like her previous books, this world is full of magic and Mila and her sister Sanna go on an adventure in search of their brother Oskar. They are inherently different but they do what they must in order to protect their family. The plot is imaginative and exciting and I honestly loved every second of it.

At its heart The Way Past Winter is about family and in particular the relationship between sisters – one brave and determined to find her brother and the other desperate to protect the only family she has left. This really is an imaginative tale that is at times both heart warming and at times bittersweet. This book is definitely the perfect book to cuddle up with on a cold winter night. This magical tale is absolutely worth the wait and fans of The Girl of Ink and Stars are going to adore this spectacular book.
5 stars

Book Review: The Lost Witch – Melvin Burgess

Book Review: The Lost Witch – Melvin Burgess

BOOK REVIEW (43)
Release Date: 2nd August 2018
Publisher: Andersen Press
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Bea has started to hear and see things that no one else can – creatures, voices, visions. Then strangers visit Bea and tell her she is different: she has the rare powers of a witch. They warn her she is being hunted. Her parents think she is hallucinating and needs help. All Bea wants to do is get on with her life, and to get closer to Lars, the mysterious young man she has met at the skate park. But her life is in danger, and she must break free. The question is – who can she trust?

Review

Growing up I really loved Melvin Burgess’s books. I’ve read Bloodtide and Bloodsong more than a few times so when I heard he was writing a story about a young teenage girl who discovers she has magical powers I added it straight to my wish list. I must admit that after reading it I was a bit disappointed and it didn’t really live up to my expectations.

book cover (18)I found the pacing for this book to be quite off, the first few chapters were incredibly slow and I had to put the book down for a week and go back to it – which isn’t really something I do. I then felt the later chapters that had quite important scenes in them completely raced through and I didn’t get enough detail.

I really liked the Norse mythology elements and the way that Burgess wove that into the world building and the magic the characters could do. I also found the characters really interesting, Bea has some tough decisions to make about her future and I enjoyed seeing her develop as a person and own up to her mistakes. I also really liked Silvis, the one character who seems to really want to help Bea survive. The writing style felt very different to other Melvin Burgess books I’ve read and although I enjoyed it I definitely preferred the style of his previous books.

The book also deals with some pretty difficult topics such as abuse both physical and mental, rape, murder and blaming the victim which came as a bit of a shock as it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The book is certainly a dark one and was a bit of  a struggle for me finish. If you’re interested in witchy stories that touch on difficult issues, this could be just the book for you but for me it was big disappointment.

3 stars

Blog Tour: Puzzle Girl – Rachael Featherstone

Blog Tour: Puzzle Girl – Rachael Featherstone

BOOK REVIEW (54)
Release Date: 2nd August 2018
Publisher: The Dome Press
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones
Souce: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything.

When she finds herself stuck in a doctor’s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious ‘puzzle-man’ behind it.

Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin.

Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

Review

This is a fun and enjoyable read and one that I absolutely raced through. I enjoyed it because it was a fresh take on the finding Mr right story.

book cover (29)The story centres on a surprise conversation through a puzzle book, and the protagonists subsequent attempts to find out who the person writing back is. I don’t read an awful lot of chick-lit but I this struck me as a really interesting and unique take, so I was really excited to pick it up. It was definitely worth it, I really enjoyed Cassy’s antics as she attempts to juggle her work life and find out who this mystery man is.

As for Cassy herself she’s the perfect protagonist. Fond of making lists (much like myself) and prepared for almost every occasion, it’s really fascinating to watch as her obsession with solving the puzzle begins to take over her life. She spends less time with her friends and family, and begins to lose sight of what is really important, in order to solve the puzzle. She’s also far from perfect, she makes mistakes does things wrong and definitely lands herself in a few tricky situations.

I really enjoyed the work place rivalry within the story too. Cassy is up for a big promotion, but she’s not the only one. Her and Martin don’t really get along and it’s fascinating watching the plot develop as they attempt to undermine each other and get ahead.

Puzzle Girl is also set in London, and the mentions of the DLR and other little London landmarks make for a really nice touch, and add to the overall feel of the book.

The story develops at a good pace, and gives the reader time to come up with different theories, without being too obvious at who the mystery man is. For me that is often the down-fall of chick-lit reads, I can guess the ending before the first few chapters are over and that somewhat spoils my enjoyment. That didn’t happen with Puzzle Girl, you pick up little pieces of information along the way, and that makes for a really fantastic story.

If you’re looking for a fun and clever book to read – especially now the that the sun is shining a bit more – this is definitely one to pick up!
4 stars
*This post originally appeared as part of the Puzzle Girl blog tour in August. I recently lost a lot of my content when I migrated sites and so am reposting as many of them as possible!
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