Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

(As always, a big thanks your to the fab bloggers over at The Broke and The Bookish for this weekly meme!)

This week on Top Ten Tuesday is top ten books I wouldn't mind Santa leaving under my tree this year. To be honest though, I think I'd prefer a tree of books. You'd definitely get more reading material that way!

Image courtesy of Wake County
2016 is going to be one hell of a reading year now I've finally started blogging and making more time for my beloved books. This time I'm determined to meet my reading goal, although with so many great books coming, plus a load I still haven't read yet I think I'm setting the bar high! Still, it wouldn't be much of a Top Ten Tuesday if I went ahead and picked a Christmas tree's worth of books, so here is my much more restrained list of picks.

Siren's Song - Mary Weber

This book was my last Waiting on Wednesday pick, and I absolutely hate waiting, so if I could get it a few months earlier, that would be great. This is one of those series' where I can't understand why it isn't bigger than it is. Nym is, without exaggeration, one of my favourite fantasy protagonists ever, so much more than your cookie-cutter good girl/bad girl. The first book in the series, Storm Siren, was a million miles better than countless other YA bestsellers and I'm so excited to finally be able to continue and finish up the series in 2016.

The Fate of the Tearling - Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling was one of my favourite books read in 2015. I wasn't totally sold on The Invasion of the Tearling until the end, but I can't wait to see how the story ends. I always prefer the UK covers to the US covers for this series too, so I'm dying to see what it's going to look like. As it was, all I could find was the US cover. Still, if that's all Santa had in his sack, I'd take it!

Longbow Girl - Linda Davies

Set in the Brecon Beacons in Wales (one of my favourite places in the world), steeped in history, mythology and ancient lore, Longbow Girl sounds like my kind of read! I'm usually a bit wary of dual narratives, they don't always work, but I've heard lots of good things about this book, so it's on my tbr list for 2016!

The Girl Who would Be King - Kelly Thompson

TGWWBK is one of my favourite books ever, responsible for the time I stayed up reading and then slogged through a day in the office on a mere two hours sleep, an event which led to the invention of the team's emergency "rocket coffee" - black coffee with two white sugars, two brown sugars and the secret ingredient, one capsule of coconut oil. I wouldn't recommend it. Anyways, I'm long overdue a reread of this story of superhero vs supervillain and would love the gorgeous paperback for my shelves. Kindle just doesn't do this one justice!

After You - Jojo Moyes

I know I shouldn't read this book. I know it will make me cry bucket loads just like Me Before You did, but I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. I kind of feel like I need to know where Lou goes after the events of MBY, and at least now I've read a few more of Jojo Moyes' books I know to allow myself a good amount of recovery time.

Assassin's Heart - Sarah Ahiers

Described as The Godfather meets Romeo and Juliet, I tried to get my hands on an ARC of this, something I've never really tried before, just because I'm so desperate to read it! I didn't get one though, so I'm just going to have to wait for February, unless I woke up to find one waiting for me under the Christmas tree (hint hint Santa...)

The Sleeping Prince - Melinda Salisbury 

I absolutely loved The Sin Eater's Daughter, so can't wait for the sequel. The wonderful bloggers who get involved with the weekly #ukyachat - who have never let me down with a book recommendation - put me onto it and, while I loved it, I couldn't help but feel it was setting up a bigger and better story. I can't wait to see what waits for Twylla in The Sleeping Prince.

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

I loved the movie version of this book, but haven't got around to reading it yet, even though it's been on my tbr list forever. It's about time I got around to finally reading it. I kind of wish I'd read the book before I saw the movie so I didn't either know or try to second guess what was coming, but then again I wouldn't have been so keen to read the book. It's a conundrum! 

Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor
"He's a librarian at the world's greatest library." Go no further, I'm sold! Once I read that sentence on Twitter, I already had Laini Taylor's new book in my 2016 release diary. The fact that I am utterly in love with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy made it a given, but that teaser has me wishing my life away. September 2016 cannot come soon enough!

What Remains - Natsuo Kirino
I love Natsuo Kirino! Her Japan-set thrillers are dark and more than a little bleak, but they're also an unflinching examination of human behavior. What Remains is the story of a young woman who was kidnapped and held captive for a year at aged 10, now a novelist writing the story of her incarceration when she suddenly disappears, leaving nothing but a post-it note on her manuscript. I've searched high and low for this book, but can't find a copy translated to English or a reason why it was never published outside of Japan like Natsuo's other books. I can't even find a cover! If I woke up on Christmas morning to a copy under my tree, I'd be very happy!

All in though, 2016 is looking to be a great reading year! What's on your fantasy Christmas gift list?

Friday, 18 December 2015

Lost - The Caelian Cycle #1

During WW1, a meteorite crashed, releasing a mist that changed the DNA of all who were exposed. One hundred years has passed and society is divided between the Norms and the Caelians, whose changed DNA awakened dormant gifts, called Talents.

Sadie is over it! She’s an orphan, her boyfriend was murdered, and she’s the only Caelian at St. Vincent’s without a Talent. Once she turns 18, there will be no place for her in the world. That is, until a chance encounter with Kian, a Caelian boy who makes her feel uncomfortable and alive at the same time. Secrets of her past are uncovered and Sadie’s latent, rare Talent is exposed. With great power comes the hunters, hired by an egomaniac who wants to use Sadie’s power to establish Caelian dominance. On the run with Kian and her friends, Sadie will have to decide: hide or fight. Will she accept her new reality or will she stay lost?

I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review, however this is no way influenced my post.

I love a good YA dystopian read, and this book did not disappoint! From the opening prologue hinting at Sadie's heritage and how she became an orphan, I was hooked. Sadie was a fantastic protagonist. Even when she's mourning the loss of her boyfriend or standing out as the only Caelian in her class without a Talent, she doesn't wallow in self pity or sit around moping. And when she discovers her Talent, she gets even better. Think Rogue from X-Men, but the kickass comic book version, not the whiney movie version! Fittingly, the book doesn't pull any punches with the violence and there a couple of surprisingly brutal moments.

The story is surprisingly brief (only clocking in at 127 pages in PDF format) and it makes for a gripping read from start to finish. There was no point where I was bored or tempted to put the book down, the pacing is spot on. When the action isn't kicking off in the plot, there's brilliant character building when Sadie is hanging out with her friends. I loved Rebecca and Madison. A lot of YA books go for the girl v girl angle so I really appreciate well-written female friendships when I read them! Sadie's friendships with John and Mike were cute too, and again, props to Donnielle Tyner for writing platonic female-male relationships. Despite but when many authors seem to think, they do exist! There were lots of lovely little moments between the characters that really made me believe that they cared about each other without having to read page after page of backstory.

I was a little disappointed that the book didn't go into more detail about the Caelian v Normals world. Those with Talent have distinct physical features, like blue skin or bright red freckles which is ripe for endless potential, so I was kind of disappointed that we don't see more of the Caelians and their world. Because the book is so brief, we don't really get to learn much about Sadie's grandfather and why he's so desperate to get her onside, why her Talent is so special when presumably there are far more powerful Caelians around, but I guess that's all to be covered in book two, Bound. However I was somewhat relieved that, while there is a hook for the second book, this book had a satisfying ending. I've been stung too many times recently by book endings that cross the line from cliffhanger to unfinished stories so I'm always happy to see a story wrapped up, even if there's more story to be told. Bring on Bound!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Things I've learned as a book blogger

About four months ago I stopped stalking other people's book blogs and decided to set up my own. Well, I didn't stop stalking other blogs, I still do that. But now I have my own too. I was a bit nervous venturing into to world of blogging. The internet doesn't have a reputation for bringing out the best in people. What if I got a load of abuse? What if people hated it? Or what if no one read it at all and I had to shut the whole thing down? As it turns out, setting up my blog was one of the best things I've done in a long time! I've had so much fun blogging and meeting fellow bookworms!

I don't claim to be any sort of book blogging expert by any stretch of the imagination, far from it. I'm still a blogging newbie and get kind of start struck seeing all these incredible blogs with thousands of followers, but I'm muddling my way along, picking things up as I go, and it turns out you pick up a lot when you're blogging books. Since I seem to have come down with a case of the warm and fuzzies at the moment, I'm greatful for all of them.

Book bloggers are lovely
You will never virtually meet - I've haven't been able to get to any bookish events and meet any bloggers in real life yet - a nicer bunch than book bloggers. Honestly, the people I've met through my blog, Twitter chats, Goodreads etc have been wonderful. The online bookish community is incredibly supportive and welcoming to new people and there are so many ways to get involved with chats and readalongs and just generally share your passion for reading. No matter how obscure your favourite book it, you'll find someone who loves it just as much as you do. Don't be afraid to reach to reach out!

You'll never be satisfied with your own blog
It's called blog envy, and we all get it. Beautiful photos of utterly gorgeous and pristine bookshelves, a font you really wish you'd used, a post you really wish you'd written, a layout that's miles better than yours. You will see it. It's taken me a while, but I've stopped chasing the elusive perfect blog rabbit. I've got my blog to a stage I'm happy with and am running with it. Maybe I'll redesign somewhere down the line, but the important thing to remember is; it's your blog. Don't try and make it anyone else's.

You don't have to be a vlogger
I'm camera shy, so being a booktuber is not for me. I keep my blog old school. We're not obsolete yet! There are a whole load of us out here who don't venture onto Youtube or in front of the camera, just as many who do. So whatever your preference, you can do either or both!

You'll never be free of your tbr
What was once a tbr book became two. Those two books became a tbr pile. That pile became a health and safety hazard so then I had a tbr bookshelf. Then two. The upshot is, I will never be free of books to be read. Be warned, we book bloggers are as fantastic for recommending great reads as I am terrible at resisting them! Just embrace it!

There aren't enough hours in the day
You always want to be doing more. Reading, writing, blogging, whatever's your bag, you'll wish there was more time to do it. Or you could get paid to do this for a living. Alas, if you could, there would be one hell of a queue!

There's nothing wrong with loving books/YA
None of my friends are big readers, and the term YA is practically cursing in my book group. One of the guys describes is as the reality tv of literature. We've now agreed to stop discussing the issue because we were butting heads every month and the others were getting sick of listening to us and I was about ready to commit murder. But blogging and meeting so many fellow YA readers has made me realise that there's nothing at all wrong with loving YA! It's a shame that books and reading have got such a bad rap, and that huge swaths of people who do read seem willing to dismiss a whole genre, but when you get online, you'll find out where everyone else who loves YA has been hiding all your life! It's so wonderful to be able to share your love of books with other readers and not get judgey stares and raised eyebrows. I'm tempted to make my book group picks when it's my turn all YA, but I might get kicked out, so maybe I'll just slip one or two in there...

We all want our own libraries
Yeah, self explanatory really. If we had our way, I think 90% of us would have our own libraries. And a fair few of them would resemble the one that Belle gets in Beauty and The Beast.

It's easier than you think
If you're kind of thinking about setting up your own book blog but don't know where to start or think it might not work out I have one piece of advice. Do it! Setting up a free blog is super easy, there's no pressure to post if you're feeling uncreative, no word counts or deadlines. I blog for fun while I'm working full-time (not while I'm at work obviously. I'd get fired!) and studying part-time along with having a social life which is constantly doubled booked because my organisational skills suck, but have racked up about 40-50 posts since I began, just for the love of doing it. Sometimes you might feel like you're shouting into the void, but if you love what you do, keep doing it! And with a little luck, someone else might like it too.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #3 - Siren's Song

Yay! I've finally made it to another Waiting on Wednesday! The universe seems to conspire against me whenever I try to take part in this, but this week marks two on the go. Success! A big thank you to Jill at Breaking The Spine for hosting this weekly feature.

My Waiting on Wednesday this week is Siren's Song by Mary Weber. It's also Siren's Fury. That book came out this year but I absolutely refuse to read it until the finale of the trilogy is out. The ending of Storm Siren nearly tore my heart out, and I won't put myself through that again until I have the next book to dive into. In April 2016.
I've already glimpsed sort of spoilers in the book blurbs for three having not read two, so I'm not looking at them any more. If anyone tries to talk to me about them I shall close my eyes and put my fingers in my ears!

So here's book one - Storm Siren;

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth - meaning she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed. Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for? Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

I'd been kind of ignoring this series until the finale was out, but now I've got myself all worked up for it again. Dammit! Still, only 126 days to go ... Quick, someone give me some book recommendations to take my mind off it! What's on your Waiting on Wednesday?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

(As always, a big thanks your to the fab bloggers over at The Broke and The Bookish for this weekly meme!)

This week on Top Ten Tuesday the topic is the slightly challenging top ten new-to-me authors I read for the first time in 2015. I started blogging in July and got in to a lot of series' and authors that have been out for a while, so my "new in 2015" is probably old news for many! Still, I've discovered some truly wonderful books this year and these utterly fantastic authors!

Laini Taylor 

I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I loved Days of Blood and Starlight. I loved Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Honestly, this series near single handedly made my reading year. It was one of the first books I reviewed properly to get my blog up and running and it was an epic choice. Laini Taylor is easily one of the most imaginative and original authors I've had the pleasure of reading, lifting what could have been a fairly run of the mill series into something spectacular.

Leigh Bardugo

In my haste to devour anything remotely related to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I accidentally picked up Shadow and Bone, thinking it was in some way part of the stories. At first I was crushingly disappointed that it was something else entirely. The stage after crushing disappointment is apparently hopeless addiction. I loved this book, abruptly switching the target of my obssession and reading all three books in Leigh Bardugo's trilogy. Plus the first in her new duology Six of Crows.

Laura Dockrill

I came for the gorgeous cover. I stayed for the beautiful story. I've long harboured a secret obsession with mermaids, ever since I watched The Little Mermaid as a kid and wanted to be Ariel. This was the first book I read by Laura Dockrill, the utterly charming and bittersweet story making me shed a few tears in public. I love this book, I love this author!

Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling was sat in my TBR pile for the best part of a year before Lydia over at Something Like Lydia finally convinced me to read it, sand I'm so glad she did! Erika Johansen's no nonsense writing and kick ass heroine Kelsea Glynn made this one of my favourite books of 2015. The Invasion of the Tearling was sent to me courtesy of Charnell at Reviews From A Bookworm, and I couldn't believe I hadn't read this series before. Bring on The Fate of the Tearling!

Melinda Salisbury

As much as the cliffhanger to this one killed me, I practically ate the pages to Melinda Salisbury's debut novel! This book kept popping up everywhere online, like it was taunting me with its unreadness. It's cool though, because the sequel The Sleeping Prince is out in early 2016. And the obsession begins again ...

E Lockhart

We Were Liars was another book which kept getting a lot of love in my reading circles. I'd never read anything my E Lockhart before starting this book, coming in off a glut of YA fantasy, so the real world setting threw me for a loop initially. Another one that almost had me (alright, did have me) in tears, a big thank you to the guys on #ukyachat for putting me on to this author!

J D Wright

I signed up for a blog tour for Wildfire, the second book in the Everealm series by J D Wright. I didn't have any expectations when I started, but after devouring Wildfire, I promptly went back and read Everealm and loved it even more! Author J D Wright is one of the loveliest people too, and more than willing to put up with my fangirling about the series. Roll on the finale of the trilogy, Blood Moon, out in January!

Jojo Moyes

I can't believe I hadn't read any Jojo Moyes books until this year! I sobbed my way through Me Before You, Ship of Brides and The Last Letter From Your Lover. After You is sat on my bedside table, but I can't bring myself to read it yet. I don't think my heart can take it!

Rachel Hartman

Seraphina and Shadowscale were gifts because "they looked like my kind of thing", and I fell in love with Rachel Hartman! I ended up reading both on super long train journeys in Europe because my friend was constantly falling asleep the moment we set off and didn't wake up again until the train pulled into the station. These books are so good I wasn't even mad at her. Rachel Hartman has got a way of getting you completely lost in the world she's writing. Truly epic writing!

Marie Lu 

I honestly cannot believe that I hadn't read anything by Marie Lu before! I really want to finish this series before I start Young Elites. It's a case of having too many books to read!

How about you guys? Any new authors discovered in 2015 I really should be checking out in 2016? I really feel like by tbr pile iesn't quite big enough ... 

Sunday, 6 December 2015


Penny Beck is a girl who says yes when she means no. She keeps to herself, follows the rules, and does what she's told. After a disastrous experience with her boyfriend, she's determined to change from the spineless person she's always been into the strong woman she wants to become. All she needs is a little practice. 

On a cross-country trip to check on her grandpa, she strives to become bolder and more outspoken with the strangers she meets. Penny's plan is to practice saying and doing what she wants without worrying about what anyone else thinks. Then she meets Archer, an introspective loner to whom she finds herself drawn. She realizes she does care what he thinks, very much. Will Penny be able to stick to her plan, or will she revert back to her people-pleasing ways?

I received a free copy of the ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Outspoken is a rather charming tale of a teenage girl at a crossroads in her life between childhood and adulthood. Penny is someone I think pretty much all of us can relate too at one time or another. She lives her life for other people, allowing their expectations to shape her life. After her inability to say no finally costs her more than she expected, she decides to postpone college, up sticks and move to another state. Come on, who hasn't fantasised about saying "screw this" and starting again somewhere new at one time or another? Hopefully not just me... Anyways, Penny decides that a new start also means a new her, and makes good on her determination to say no more, building a new life surrounded by new friends and reconnecting with her Alzheimer's suffering grandfather. At first glance, this story seemed a little too twee for my tastes but, contrary to what I expected, I loved it!

I adored Penny as a character. Sweet, good-natured and just a little bit firey, she is a wonderful protagonist and surrounded by nicely written supporting characters. I wasn't entirely sure about Archer at first though, somewhat puzzled about what exactly attracted Penny to such a bland, standoffish guy, but their fledgling relationship is one of the hearts of the story. Free of the magical powers and far away kingdoms that make up my usual reads, theirs is one of the cutest and most well written relationships I've read in a long time. It was also really refreshing to read the platonic female-male friendship between Penny and Mike without the usual love triangle trope that's so prevailent in YA being trotted out to add conflict to the plot. I didn't always buy the dialogue between the teenage characters (I did also raise an eyebrow at being expected to believe that the first person Penny meets is a building supervisor who is an 18 year old girl. Convenient, no?). It just seemed a bit to literal at times to advance the plot.

The other heart of the story is Penny's grandfather Cal. Cut off from his family, widowed after the death of his beloved wife Ruby and suffering sporadically from the effects of Alzheimer's, he doesn't want to be a charity case and it takes Penny a while to win him around before his condition deteriorates. Still, his condition was sensitively written, feeling more genuine than just being shoehorned in as the plot required, and it brought out some truly lovely traits in supporting characters.

I was a little disappointed that Penny's journey of growth and self discovery seemed to boil down to getting a new boyfriend. Ok, I'm simplifying a bit, but I think I would have prefered Penny to be a little more independent by the end of the book. Still, it's a charmingly simple coming of age story that will leave you with a smile on your face. That said, it does have a few surprisingly dark moments, including a few mentions of rape that may be triggering for some. Such moments are fleeting though, feeling almost as though they need further exploration or needn't have been included at all. 

Outspoken is a nicely written story, perfect for a lazy afternoon read. The pacing is great, leisurely and easy to read without rushing or disengaging. A solid debut from author Lora Richardson, I'll definitely be looking to check out any future stuff from her!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Invasion of the Tearling

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling - and that of Kelsea’s own soul - may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

I utterly adore The Queen of the Tearling. It was hands down one of the best books I read in 2015 and easily a five star read. I was 36% of the way through The Invasion of the Tearling (thanks Goodreads!) when I feared my first DNF. About a third of the way though, I hated this book.

How can two books by the same author in the same series provoke such wildly different responses? I guess I can boil it down to a few little things, and one really big thing.

Kelsea Glynn.

I loved her in Queen. Really loved her. A complex, strong, well written protagonist, she was easily one of the greatest YA characters I'd read. I completely understand why Emma Watson want to make the movie and play Kelsea in it! But from a unique and utterly believable character, in Queen, Kelsea has become a different person in Invasion, and not in a good way. Where before she shaped her story, here, Kelsea gets lost in it. In Queen, Kelsea used her magic to summon a flood to wash away enemy forces and save her people. In Invasion she uses it to make herself thinner and prettier. She's petty, using her power as queen to put people she doesn't like in their place, busy gazing at her refelction in the mirror as she drops weight and trying to jump into bed with her guard to prove a point. There's a self harming subplot too which is so insultingly simplified I'm not even going to touch it in this review. It's a post all of it's own. The constant "who's her father?" question gets pretty tedious too. Seriously, this plot thread has been stretched to breaking point. Whoever it is, after two books of dragging it out without any new hints or information, it's going to be a let down.

A lot's been made of the dual narration, flipping between Kelsea in the present and the mysterious Lily in the past, this new plot thread detracts from the story rather than enhance it. It makes for a slightly strange read too, with the story switching between fantasy and dystopia which didn't quite work for me. The stories didn't seem to intertwine until the very end and made me feel like I was reading two different books simultaneously and, as is always the risk with dual protagonists, I wanted to read about one more than the other. There certainly wasn't as much tying the two women as the blurb made me expect, their stories almost inconsequential to each other unless I missed something! The gratuitous sexual violence gets tedious too. Where it was well done in Queen, showing the harash realities of war and poverty, in Invasion it feels exploitative and cheap. Kelsea's emerging sexuality is well handled thought, and it's nice to see a YA book portray a realistic sexual relationship without immediately punishing the heroine by having everying kick off in the plot. Victory dance!

I'm glad I didn't give up on this book though, because as the invading Mort armies close in, the story picks up. Kelsea seems to snap out of her sulk and develop as a character rather than regress to a stroppy child. I just wish this didn't only start to happen halfway through the book! The real danger to her comes not from the approaching enemy forces, but from Kelsea herself. The scene where she literally rips another character to pieces is stunning in its brutality and terrifying in what it means for Kelsea as a character. The tie between her and Lily becomes a little clearer, it doesn't stop their chapters feeling like entirely different stories, but both are engaging - although I have to admit I found myself looking forward to reading Lily's story more than Kelsea's!

I was a bit let down by the ending, not quite as hooked as I was by Queen for the sequel. Kelsea's story kind of peters out. Without giving too much away, three years?! That's nothing! What happens after that? Nothing's been resolved! And Lily's story, whilst genuinely sweet and redeeming, just seems something that should have been left for a prequel or novella. All in, until about a third of the way through, this review was looking to be a one star affair. Then about midway through, it became 5 star un-put-downable. At the end, it levelled out to good but not great three stars. The problem is, my issues with pacing and character motivations aside, this book is just too good for a middle of the road 3 stars, but my frustrations won't let me give it 4. So I busted out Photoshop and gave my first ever half star! Seriously, I would recommend this book and series, and I'll be excitedly waiting on the final installment. It's just kind of infuriating at times. Fingers crossed for The Fate of the Tearling. I hope it's more Queen than Invasion!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Feature & Follow #7

TGIF! After a few weeks out with either myself (with a dislocated shoulder) or my laptop (with a dead hard drive) out of action, I'm stupidly excited to get involved with Feature and Follow Friday again!

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. I've just started getting involved in these features and they're great fun! It's a really cool way to find out what people are reading and connect with other bloggers. Added bonus, the aim of a blog hop is to follow others. You follow me, I follow you. Wins all round! I'm happy for followers on GFC, Twitter, Bloglovin', Goodreads, whatever works for you. GFC seems to be being a bit temperamental at the moment, so I guess I'd prefer Bloglovin' follows if I had to pick one.

This week's question: What's your favourite ice cream flavour?
by Not Tonight I'm Reading.

I'm not really a sweet fan to be honest, I'm more of a savoury girl. Open bags of salty snacks do not last long in my house! I would probably go for lemon sorbet, even though it's not technically an ice cream, just because I love lemon and have yet to find lemon flavoured ice cream anywhere. How about you guys? Any other bloggers out there who prefer savoury to sweet? (Seriously if this question was asking about my favourite flavour of crisps this post would be at least three times as long!)

Thursday, 3 December 2015

False Idols

In the year 2047 neural implants have given a small slice of the population superhuman abilities. Are these Aeons brilliant humanitarians dedicated to saving civilization, or venal psychopaths bent on its destruction? When Sarah Fenton is recruited out of her orphanage into a mysterious government program, this question becomes her mission. Answering it incorrectly could spell the end of the human race. As famine and religious strife threaten to push the nation into a three-way civil war, Sarah’s time runs short. Will she be wily enough to choose correctly and save the world?

I'll fess up early. I was given a free copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

False Idols is a lot more sci-fi than my usual reads, but I was intrigued by the blurb and wasn't let down. I struggled with the book a bit at first. Setting up the sci-fi world and dystopian future, the book gets bogged down in details and lacks a "voice". With the heavy description and almost emotionless description of events I was a little scpetical. But the human story told in a cold tech (virtual) reality becomes a nice juxtaposition. The vivid imagery in the virtual reality, aka the ether, is wonderful, and the visual representation of hacking absolutely brilliant. People fight groups of giant beasts signifying a security programme, break in through firewalls of stone, strip away their bodies to leave behind no trace as they sneak past guardians. Being a bit of a geek, I love that kind of stuff!

I was expecting the titular "Aeons", the superhackers who live in their own hedonistic online worlds to be a little more ambiguous based on the book blurb, but it's pretty obvious throughout that they are no such thing. Chief Aeon Laura is probably my favourite character, a badass Svengali-type character set on dominating what's left of the world. Perhaps because I didn't really care for the lazy trust fund kid Nick I actually found her manipulation of him another point in her favour!

On the other side is protagonist Sarah. Plucked from an orphanage and trained as an "anti-Aeon" hacker, I didn't really feel her. Her stroppy teenager moments weren't exactly endearing and her Tragic Backstory™ seems a rushed and clumsy attempt to try and make her likable. I didn't buy Sarah and Nick as a couple either. Not for one second. And the presence of Michael acts as a needless third angle in a triangle that's both unnecessary and undermines the urgency of the plot. Seriously, we see about two dates between Sarah and Nick during which time they seem more brother and sister than would-be lovers. Maybe some stuff got cut in the edit, but this was unusually my least favourite aspect of the story. Perhaps that's why I found myself looking forward to reading the Aeon chapters and being on the side of the bad guys!

I didn't realise that this book was part of a series, so the abrupt ending seems to come out of nowhere which really bothers me! I always think books in a series should be able to stand alone, but False Idols seems to go from full throttle to cliffhanger in about two chapters without satisfactory closure to everything that's come before. That said, I'm hooked! Though I'm not sure I should be rooting for the villains ...

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #2 Air Awakens

Let me start off by saying I'm not a lurker, I promise! It took me about four months of blogging to finally join in with the Waiting on Wednesday feature, with every intention of making it a regular thing on the bookshelf. At which point my laptop promptly gave up the ghost and had to be shipped off to the PC doctors for repair, which is why I've been on radio silence for a couple of weeks. But, like a sign from the reading gods, it arrived back today
just in time for Wednesday! With a shiny new hard drive - good times - and minus several photo albums I never got around to backing up - bad times.

Since I'm not going to make my 2015 reading goal unless I quit my job and take up reading full time, I'm going to make more of an effort in 2016. And these are the beauties I'm going to be kicking off with in January. Thanks to Jill over at Breaking the Spine for hosting this weekly feature!
A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond. The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war. Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all - the Crown Prince Aldrik - she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

I've heard so many good things about the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova and the book blurbs for all of them read like my new favourite things ever. Seriously they tick off everything on my fantasy read list! I know the first two books are already out, but I haven't bought them yet since they're on my The Broke and The Bookish secret santa wishlist so I've got to wait a while until I can read or buy them depending on what arrives, but one way or another, I'll be devouring them in January. And with the third in the pentalogy (thanks Google!) out in February, I should be all set. Kingdoms far far away, magic, romance...check, check and check. I can't wait to get started!

Has anyone read any of the Air Awakens series? How awesome?!