Friday, 25 November 2016

Review: Of Sand And Malice Made


Of Sand and Malice Made 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Çeda is the youngest pit fighter in the history of the great desert city of Sharakhai. In this brilliant new story, a prequel to Twelve Kings, she has already made her name in the arena as the fearsome, undefeated White Wolf. None but her closest friends and allies know her true identity.

But this all changes when she crosses the path of Rümayesh, one of the sadistic creatures known as ehrekh which were forged long ago by the god of chaos. They are usually desert dwellers, but this one lurks in the dark corners of Sharakhai, toying with and preying on humans. As Rümayesh works to unmask the White Wolf and claim Çeda for her own, Çeda's struggle becomes a battle for her friends, her life, and her very soul.  


When I read Twelve Kings, I completely enjoyed it for a multitude of different reasons! It was so good you guys! I've been so excited to read this and get to see more of Çeda's life before Twelve Kings. I loved getting to dive back in to the world of the book, it all came flooding back as I started to read! I think I'll have to recommend that you guys read Twelve Kings before reading this, because Twelve Kings has all the world building that you need! I don't want you guys to read this and be confused about things because you don't know what this or that is, it'll take away from the book! I mean, I spotted a few things that needed more explanation, but then at the same time, you could read this before and then get all excited to find out what it means...so actually you could read it either way. Look at that, I just talked myself in a circle! 

One of the things I loved about Twelve Kings was it's intricate and rich background history and legends and myths, so I obviously loved getting to see one of the legends/myths of the world up close and personal in this book!  I previously loved Çeda's determination, intelligence and her skills, so I loved getting to see an earlier version of her than was in Twelve Kings. Getting to see her train and fight. I so badly wanted to see more of her and my prayers where answered! 

This may only be like 200 pages, but it's still richly imagined, well written, fast paced and has lots of mythology. It provides an insight in to a younger and earlier Çeda, and you get to see Emre too! There's also appearances from a couple of other familiar faces throughout the novella, and I loved getting to see them again, because I enjoyed the characters so much that I wanted to see more of them! 

Of Sand and Malice Made is a brilliant addition to The Song of the Shattered Sands series, it adds another layer to world and characters, and lets you get to know some of the characters even more, so you can see how much they've developed and changed when you read Twelve Kings. There's stunning ilustrations, a fast pace, and a brilliantly rich story that draws you in and keeps your attention, while the twists keep you on your toes! 


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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Review: Star Wars Catalyst



Star Wars Catalyst 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Lauded Star Wars author James Luceno returns to pen an intense tale of ambition and betrayal that sets the stage for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine's top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic's, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key. Galen's energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic's debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor's tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic's web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself. 

I'm sure I'm not the only person who's ridiculously excited for Rogue One!? I have a friend who worked on it, doing something techy with editing, and I was so insanely jealous because hello getting to watch the raw footage! Who among us wouldn't sell a spare internal organ to get to work on Star Wars? I love the original Star Wars trilogy, the prequel trilogy not so much. Sometimes I pretend it doesn't exist, I might try re-watching them another day, but the originals are my ultimate favourites! I loved Episode Seven, probably because it was quite similar to A New Hope! I've been so curious about Rogue One, it's set before A New Hope, and all the trailers look so damn good, and this book has made me even more excited for it! 

I love how all of these books fill in gaps in the Star Wars universe and give you more in depth looks at the films, and this one sets up Rogue One for us nicely. It introduces us to Jyn, gives us her backstory, her parents story, gives us the political climate, what's been going on, and if you've seen the trailer......the scene with Young Jyn in the field type place, with her dad...that now makes so much sense. I'm 99% sure I know what that's all about now! This won't spoil the film for you, and you don't need to read it before you see it, but if you do read it, I think it'll flesh out the film more and give you a better understanding of everything, you get a better feel for the characters and the events! 

Catalyst is hugely character driven, the book focuses on Galen Erso and his family, as well as Galen's relationship with Krennic. Who I totally hated. So much. You read about Galen and how stoked he is about his work but you also have Krennic's POV so you know what he's up to and what's really going and I really loved that effect. I think my favourite characters was Lyra however, and I'm not at all worried about her lack of presence in the Rogue One trailer, (someone tell me she's there and I missed her!). I loved how she was questioning Krennic, I loved how well she and Galen worked together, I loved how they complemented each other personality wise. 

I liked that we got to see how Galen came to be working for the "bad guys" as it where. I liked seeing how you could end up working for the wrong side, thinking you where doing the right thing, and I enjoyed watching Galen's thought process on it but I also love how he immediately believed Lyra and heard her out. I'm so intrigued to see what Jyn will be like, right at the end we get her POV and it's made me so excited to see what she's like. I've got kind of an idea of what she may be like, but yeah! I'm loving getting excited for Rogue One and going in to it with this additional information! 

Classics: The Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Invited to an extravagantly lavish party in a Long Island mansion, Nick Carraway, a young bachelor who has just settled in the neighbouring cottage, is intrigued by the mysterious host, Jay Gatsby, a flamboyant but reserved self-made man with murky business interests and a shadowy past. As the two men strike up an unlikely friendship, details of Gatsby’s impossible love for a married woman emerge, until events spiral into tragedy. 

Okay....so...I've heard mixed things about this classic, but I wanted to read it myself to form my own opinion, and upon finishing it...I'm just not sure how I feel. I enjoyed aspects of it, but there where other parts I didn't really like so much. 

I liked the look in to the time period that GG provided, The Diviners is one of my favourite books so I'm always intrigued to learn more about the period, and I enjoyed getting this view of it. I liked that the language and writing style made it easy to read. I liked Nick as our narrator, he provided an interesting view point of the whole Daisy/Gatsby thing that was going on, and I felt for him when he was trying to sort things at the end for Gatsby. I felt for Gatsby himself and I was gutted at what happens to him. I enjoyed the writing, the setting, and most of the characters, really I did. 

But...and there is a but, while I did get drawn in here and there, there where parts that didn't keep my attention. I'm sure I'm not the only person who didn't like Tom as a character, but I might be in a minority when I say I didn't like Daisy that much. I just didn't like her. She was so blah. And I don't get why everyone is so obsessed with Gatsby and Daisy and why they ship them so much. From my understanding of the novel, she married someone else because he was rich and Gatsby was not. Then she had her thing with Gatsby. Then she hit someone with a car in a kind of confusing scene, and then went back off with her husband leaving Gatsby to be set up by Tom for the blame. She didn't choose him nor did she even come to his funeral. Like I'm sure there's some huge in depth meaning to it all that I just didn't get, because sometimes I'm really thick when it comes to classics. But yeah. 

The edition itself was lovely, there weren't many notes needed as this is a short book, but I found the information on Gatsby and his wife fascinating! And also incredibly depressing/tragic at points. I love learning about the authors and the context to their novels from the time period they where writing in! 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Review: Red Sun & Kalifus Rising


The Red Sun
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the author! 

After meeting a strange dwarf in his garage and finding out his substitute English teacher is a witch, twelve-year-old Sam Baron travels through a stonefire to the magical realm of Orkney where he finally learns the truth about his past: his mother is a witch and his father is a descendant of the Norse god, Odin.

"The Red Sun" is the first book in The Legends of Orkney, the spellbinding series of adventure fantasy novels by Alane Adams. It follows Sam to the realm of Orkney where witches, wraiths, and other menacing creatures cause serious peril to the unsuspecting Sam. Now, it's up to him to save his friends and all of Orkney from a cursed red sun. Can a young witch girl named Mavery help him?

Drawing on Norse mythology, this fantastical story will enthrall middle grade and tween readers with a taste for adventure. As Sam grapples with dark and dangerous elements from his past and confronts his own simmering anger over long ago events, "The Red Sun" sears with wild imagination and breathtaking moments. Follow "The Red Sun" for the high-flying magical ride of your life. 


Okay, you all know I'm a huge Norse Mythology nerd, so it shouldn't surprise any of you that I read this! The covers are gorgeous, there's a tonne of Norse Mythology and it has SUCH Percy Jackson vibes! 

The opening of this intrigued me, the story was fast paced and there was plenty of action and humour throughout the book! I enjoyed the world building, I thought it was vivid and imaginative, I really did get huge PJ vibes when I was reading, so I think fans of him will love this book. I felt for Sam, he's constantly having to choose between two sides of his family, and he's been thrown in to this situation and none of it's really his fault and he's not having the best time! I rooted for him, and I loved his group of friends, Keely, Howie, Leo and Mavery. All of them banded together to help him and I was so intrigued by all of them. This book was a lot of fun, and a quick read! 

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the author! 

Sam Baron just freed Orkney from the ravages of the Red Sun—but now, imprisoned by Catriona, leader of the Volgrim Witches, Sam finds the darker side of his half-god, half-witch heritage released, and he fears he might destroy what he saved. Unable to resist the witches' enchantments, Sam has become their most potent weapon, and is leading an army of monstrous men against Skara Brae. 

Sam’s only hope for salvation lies with his three best friends and a mystical artifact known as the Moon Pearl. Keely travels north in search of the pearl, while Howie prepares for the gathering onslaught. Leo seeks a powerful artifact in the underworld, and faces an ancient evil that could be an even greater threat than Catriona and her cronies.

As Sam's friends rush to save him, other forces are at work in Orkney's shadows—forces that could help free Sam, or condemn him to the darkness forever. 

I eagerly started this straight after finishing Red Sun because I was curious to see what was going to happen to Sam next, and I actually think I loved this book even more! Red Sun was good, but Kalifus Rising is even better! 

We get to see more of the world of the book, and it's even more imaginative and vivid, there's still loads of Norse Mythology, Loki pops up which I'm excited about! The start to this book with the flashback grabs your attention, and when we rejoin Sam it's been a couple of months since the end of Red Sun. There's loads more action in this book, it's action packed from the beginning, there's lots of character development. 

Sam has an interesting struggle again in this book, and I enjoyed seeing the darker side to him. We get to see more of other characters like Teren and Gael, and there's new characters Jey, Galatin and more that I'm excited to see more of in the next books! What I really loved about this book was not only seeing more imaginative corners of the world, but getting to see more Sam's friends. We get to see way more of them, they each have their own mission/quest and it allowed you to get to know them more, and you got to watch them grown and change. I think Howie's was particularly interesting because he goes from being his kind of not really heroic character who has no idea how to fight, to the hero who's swinging a sword around and summoning undead armies. But he still retains his sense of humour. I feel like Keely came in to her own as well and Leo  has the potential to be even more interesting in the next book after the events of this book! 

The ending for Kalifus Rising leaves you wanting more and I'm really enjoying this series, and the mythology woven throughout it. It's fun, it's got a lot of imagination to it and it's a nice quick read for me! 



Monday, 21 November 2016

Review: Conjuror


Conjuror 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy! 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Sixteen-year-old twins Matt and Em Calder are Animare: they can bring art to life, and travel in time through paintings. They work for Orion—the Animare MI5—protecting the secrecy of their order and investigating crimes committed by their own kind. It's dangerous work. But when they are sent to Edinburgh to find a teenage boy who can alter reality with his music, they are drawn into something more dangerous still. For this boy, Remy, is the Conjurer's Son. And he carries something that could change humanity forever. 

Okay, first things first, I didn't realise that this is like a spin off from Hollow Earth. I went in to this without having read that trilogy and I did perfectly fine. Once I started to read about Em and Matt it became apparent that okay maybe Hollow Earth is about them and the events that are mentioned, but it wasn't like I couldn't read this without having read them. I still understood everything, I wasn't confused, and I still enjoyed the book. I do think I'll be going back to read Hollow Earth at some point though because now I'm super curious! 

ANYWAY! I saw John talking about this on the TV and I was instantly curious about it because it sounded so original and like it was so much fun, and I wasn't wrong! The opening of the book is spine tingling, and from that point on I was hooked. The book was so intriguing and so different and so much fun. The book was vivid, and it was fast paced with plenty of action and adventure to keep you going! The ending of this book, perfectly sets up the next book and I am SO ready for it! I have so many questions that need to be answered, plus Matt and Caravaggio crack me up! 

Character wise, I loved all of our main characters. Remy so determined in his goals, but still able to accept help from others, he has so much courage and I loved reading about him! Matt and Em I also really loved, I loved their telepathy, I loved their loyalty to each other and how they supported each other and their banter made me chuckle! There's plenty of suspense and tension and danger and there's some brilliant snark to add a lightness to it and make you snort and cackle! 

OH I have to mention a line, I'm reading the book and then it's like "Time is much more wibbly wobbly thank you think"....well played Barrowman, well played! My brain immediately went to that scene and I definitely smiled at that! I got such a Dr. Who feel to the book too, like the good Dr. Who so the Eccleston/Tennant era, so I loved that little word play that was close to that particular line! 

I'm not going to lie to you guys, the entire time I was reading I was like "Damn I want that power" whenever Matt used his. Don't get me wrong, Remy's power is totally cool, and there's so much power in music as it is, but I'm not musically inclined, and history nerd that I am...Matt's power spoke to me. I need it. I want it. He gets to see in to the past and I WANT THAT POWER! So cool! 

Conjuror is a great diverse, easy read, full of action, adventure and mystery. There's tension and suspense. Danger...but there's also laughter and humour to offset it. There's so much originality to this book, and I loved the relationship between Em and Matt, and Remys relationship with the two of them. They worked so well together! I'm so stoked for the next book, because I'm low key shipping Matt and Caravaggio, I'm not going to lie, and I want to see more of the Moor! This is shaping up to be a brilliant new series! 

Review: Poisoned Blade


Poisoned Blade
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher. 

Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes's only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes's traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country's enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal's life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion...She must become a warrior. 

I really liked Court of Fives, it was original and intriguing, but this sequel...it didn't do it for me. I'm still intrigued to see how it's all going to end after the ending of this book, but for this book...I don't know what it was. It was a combination of things, I guess, but for most of this book I wasn't enjoying it and characters where irritating me, and then towards the end for the last part of the book...that was the only part I was like okay this is cool....but then it ended. Like I said, I'm intrigued to see how it all ends but I'm not entirely sure about the next book in general based on this. 

Poisoned Blade picks up right where Court of Fives ends, and I was loving it...until I found my attention wandering and I started to skim passages. Mostly descriptions of Jes running the Fives, and some of the fight scenes, and some other scenes, I just had to skim read. I can't decide if I wasn't in the mood, or what, but I just wasn't feeling it there not too far in to the book. Don't get me wrong, there where some good plot twists, but I feel like there was so much thrown in to this book that it was hard to keep track of things at points, I mean...the book was fast paced, which is usually a good thing but I felt like there where parts that could have been expanded on, and other parts that shouldn't have been. There where so many plot lines, this could have been a couple of books, rather than just the one and it might have worked better. I feel like there's too much that's been tried to be crammed in to this book so it's a lot of different plot points that aren't expanded on enough. 

Jes bugged me a lot this book, like you know when a character is doing something stupid, that will screw everything for them but they do it anyway? That's Jes. It took me a bit to warm up to her in the first book, but then I started rooting for her so hard, I didn't have that in this book. I wasn't rooting for her as much as I was in the first book. I felt like she kept making stupid choices, and blundering about, and it was all so high stakes but Jes always came out alright no matter how stupid she was. It's kind of hard to see how she gets everyone to go along with all her plans when she keeps making idiotic choices to be honest. She just annoyed me, because it was so ridiculous. No matter how dangerous the situation, or how many times she should have died by rights...she always managed to survive and that and her "cunning" plans are so at odds with all the stupid decisions she makes and said blundering about. She keeps going on about keeping her mother safe but endangers her a load of times and I started to roll my eyes a little bit every time she made the stupid choices. 

On the plus. I liked Amaya a lot more this book. Sure she was still a selfish idiot at points, but I really came to like her in this book, you could see how good she was at blending in and gathering information. She had uses and skills to an extent, I actually really liked the camaraderie she and Jes had going on. I wanted to see more of Bett and I sincerely regret that now. I actually disliked her more than I ever disliked Amaya in the first book. She was so condescending to her sisters and all up on her high horse. She was a total cow and I can't even with her plot twist. I didn't see that one coming at all and it definitely grabbed my attention. 

Temnos was potentially very interesting and I thought he was being set up for something but then that was cut short and I feel like that could have turned out better. I kinda think he was only killed to try to get you to gasp and be all "Oh no" and to add some blood and brutality to the end situation. Kal is kind of a douche but then he gets is balls back and punches someone in the face and it's awesome, I've liked his character development in this book. My opinion of him changed so much over the previous book and I was glad to see him develop some more and come in to his own. Menoe still bugs me too and unfortunately it looks like she'll be lurking around being irritating more in the next book. 

OH and I'm 99% sure we're being set up with a love triangle between Jes, Kal and Ro. I'm so not here for that, I don't get the whole Ro/Jes thing and then Amaya made that comment and I stared at the page for ages like...really? Did I miss that or? Because they're not together all that much and it seemed kind of random. If a love triangle is done well, then fair play. But this is kind of shoved in to book two, and I'm not sure how many books we're getting but having a love triangle shoved in to the third book is just like...no thank you. All the best love triangles I've come across have been present from the beginning, and it's been so hard to pick a team because you love both pairings. That's not present in this book, like I said, I've hardly seen Ro and Jes interact and the whole thing just seemed so random to me. 

On the plus, another good thing about the book is that we got to see more of the world of the book, more of the politics, and more of the links between the past and the present and the Fives which intrigued me in the first book as there where many hints that there was more to it than it seemed! 

Overall, this book frustrated me so much. Don't get me wrong, books are supposed to make you feel things but I don't like reading a book and being this level of frustrated with a protag. It made it hard to enjoy the book, and a lot of it didn't interest me at all. There's so much thrown in to this book as well as a possible love triangle that I don't feel is necessary, and it just wasn't as enjoyable for me as the first book. After the exciting ending to the book, I am intrigued to see what happens in the end, but I'm not as excited for the third book after reading this. 

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