Thursday, 21 August 2014

Review: Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo

The Darkling pressed a kiss to the top of my hair. "I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no other shelter but me."

For Alina, time is running out. To destroy the Darkling, she must find the elusive firebird, and she must find it soon.

The Darkling's power is growing. And so is his connection to Alina. Can Alina escape the hold he has over her? Does she want to?

Mal is the one person Alina can rely on. But could giving in to the bond between them be the most dangerous decision of all?

The Grisha Series:
The Witch of Duva (Short Story) (Can be read online on the Tor website here)
Shadow and Bone (Originally published in the UK as The Gathering Dark but now re-released as Shadow and Bone as per the US)
The Tailor (Short Story) (Can be read online on Leigh Bardugo's Facebook page here)
Siege and Storm
The Too-Clever Fox (Short Story) (Can be read online on the Tor website here)
Little Knife (Short Story) (Can be read online on the Tor website here)
Ruin and Rising

The Dregs Series:
(spin off series set in the same world but featuring different characters)
The Dregs (2015)
2nd book title and release date to be confirmed

Visit Leigh Bardugo's website for more information

Original Review:
I completely fell in love with this series from the moment I picked up the first book two years ago and I've been captivated ever since so I was both excited and nervous about reading the final book Ruin and Rising. I was so invested in the lives of these characters but I had a very definite opinion about how I wanted things to turn out and who I wanted Alina to end up with. It's really, really hard to review the final book in a trilogy without giving spoilers though. There are so many things that I want to talk about but I can't because I want everyone to have the chance to going into this story blind, I want you to be able to discover the plot twists on your own and I don't want to ruin the surprises that Leigh Bardugo has in store for you.

Therefore I'm going to keep this review deliberately short and vague and instead focus on how reading this book made me feel. I think I must have gone through every single emotion possible at one point or another but one thing I couldn't do was put the book down. This is definitely a story you need to clear your diary for because once you start you'll be completely hooked. I laughed, I cried, I was shocked, horrified and outraged one moment only to find myself grinning and cheering the next. There were moments that broke my heart and others that made me sigh happily. I'm not going to say it was all a bed of roses, there were moments when I was unsure about where the author was taking us and when I was almost too scared to look at what was happening on the page but even though she took me places where I didn't want to go Leigh Bardugo ultimately left me feeling satisfied and with a huge grin on my face.

I know that not everyone will be happy with the way this series ends, the trouble with having more than one love interest (although to me there was really only ever one contender!) is that not everyone will be happy with the way things turn out. However, I personally thought the ending was perfect, it was everything I'd hoped for and more. The whole Grisha trilogy has a special place in my heart, I'm sad it's over and would love to revisit these characters in the future but I'm also excited that the author is planning further books set in the same world but introducing new characters for us to fall in love with. I was at an event with the author a couple of days ago and she read an unedited passage from the first spin off book, The Dregs, and trust me it was amazing. I have a feeling I'm going to love the new characters even more than I loved these ones and I've already pre-ordered my copy! If you're a fantasy fan then I really don't think you can go wrong with these books.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Quick Review: Little Knife - Leigh Bardugo

In this third Ravkan folk tale from Leigh Bardugo, a beautiful girl finds that what her father wants for her and what she wants for herself are two different things.

It is a companion story to the third book of the Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, and the stories “The Witch of Duva” and “The Too-Clever Fox.”

The Grisha Series:
The Witch of Duva (Short Story) (Can be read online on the Tor website here)
Shadow and Bone (Originally published in the UK as The Gathering Dark but now re-released as Shadow and Bone as per the US)
The Tailor (Short Story) (Can be read online on Leigh Bardugo's Facebook page here)
Siege and Storm
The Too-Clever Fox (Short Story) (Can be read online on the Tor website here)
Little Knife (Short Story) (Can be read online on the Tor website here)
Ruin and Rising

The Dregs Series:
(spin off series set in the same world but featuring different characters)
The Dregs (2015)
2nd book title and release date to be confirmed

Visit Leigh Bardugo's website for more information

Original Review:
Little Knife is the third free short story that Leigh Bardugo has written for the Tor website (you can find it here) and it's just as good as the others. These stories don't feature characters from the Grisha series but are in fact Ravkan fairytales that would be told to young children by their parents.

This is the story of a young girl who is so beautiful that everyone who looks at her face falls madly in love with her. Even when she was a baby servants tried to steal her but now she is a teenager men are willing to fight to the death for the chance of winning her heart. I'm not going to say much more but the story has great themes and remind readers to be careful what they wish for!

These little freebies are a great way of testing out the author's writing style and for fans of the series they just add even more depth to the world building in the main books. This is one of my favourite series and I can't recommend it highly enough but you can read the short stories (The Witch of Duva, The Too-Clever Fox and Little Knife) in any order whether you've read any of the full length novels or not.

Source: Read online at the Tor website here

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Review: Long Live the Queen - Kate Locke

Xandra Varden thought life would be simpler when she accepted the goblin crown and became their queen, but life has only become more complicated. The vampires, werewolves and humans all want the goblins on their side, because whoever has the goblins - wins.

With human zealots intent on ridding the world of anyone with plagued blood, and supernatural politics taking Britain to the verge of civil war, Xandra's finding out that being queen isn't all it's cracked up to be. And if she doesn't do something fast, hers will be the shortest reign in history.

The fantastic conclusion to the series which started with the undead steampunk debut God Save the Queen.

The Immortal Empire Series:
God Save the Queen
The Queen is Dead
Long Live the Queen

Visit Kate Locke's website for more information

Review:
I have really enjoyed the Immortal Empire series and am actually quite sad to see it come to an end but I would rather Kate Locke ended things on a high note and that's exactly what she has done with Long Live the Queen. As much as I'm hoping she'll change her mind and continue to explore this world and it's fantastic characters I'm happy that she has tied up all the loose ends and given readers a satisfactory ending. Do I think there is room for a spin off series? Absolutely yes, but I won't be upset if there isn't.

Xandra has come a long way since the first book, not only has she accepted her goblin heritage she is now proud of it and she has really come to care for the goblins who fall under her rule. She never wanted to be a queen but she is determined to be the very best one possible and she will do anything in her power to prevent her goblins being taken advantage of by the rest of the supernatural population. The goblins are a powerful force to be reckoned with and even Queen Victoria has come to realise that she will have to work with Xandra if she wants to prevent a war between the humans and the supernatural races. The alliance between the goblins and the werewolves is a natural one considering Xandra's relationship with Vex but they are all much more wary of the vampires and Victoria. Especially when it is clear that someone high up in the vampire hierarchy is behind the missing halfies and the gruesome experiments that are being carried out on them.

There is a lot going on in this book as Kate Locke ties up the various outstanding plots from the series. We finally get to uncover who is behind the experiments but we also see some very interesting and unexpected results from the time Xandra spent in captivity. Xandra is betrayed by people she should be able to trust but she also makes some unexpected allies that are sure to change everything. We get to see her spending time with her siblings which I've always enjoyed and we also see some progression in her relationship with Vex. I've said it before but I'll say it again - I love them together! Most of all I love the fact that Vex sees Xandra as an equal, he may be a powerful alpha and his instincts tell him to protect her but he would never try to stop her fighting for her people, he just stands up and fights right alongside her.

I don't want to say too much more but I'm sure anyone who has enjoyed the previous books will love this final instalment. I am sad it's come to an end but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from Kate Locke in the future and she's already on my auto-buy list!

Source: Received Orbit in exchange for an honest review.

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Winner: Felicity Heaton eBook Giveaway


I have a winner to announce today with the help of Rafflecopter! The lucky winner gets to choose an ebook of either Kissed by a Dark Prince or Claimed by a Demon King by Felicity Heaton.

Without further ado I'm happy to announce that the winner is:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Congratulations Janie! I have sent you an email and you now have 1 week to respond with your choice of ebook or a new winner will be chosen. Your prize will be sent out directly by Felicity Heaton so you'll need to give me permission to pass your details to her so she can send the prize.

Thanks so much to Felicity for allowing me to host this giveaway for her!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Review: Being A Boy - James Dawson

Being a boy is hard.

How can you possibly act cool and even think about pulling potential partners when your face is sprouting spots and you're hairy in places you didn't even know you could be hairy?

Luckily, former PSHCE teacher James Dawson provides an uncensored look at puberty, from the social food chain to sex, being a boyfriend and everything in between. With Hilarious illustrations by Spike Gerrell, Being A Boy gives guys everything they need to know to survive - brutal honesty included.

Visit James Dawson's website for more information

Review:
I think it's fairly obvious but I'll say it anyway, I'm not now and never have been a teenage boy, so I don't exactly fall into the target audience for this book. In fact I couldn't get much further from the target audience if I tried so you might wonder why I even picked up a copy of this book in the first place. To be honest the main reason was because I'm a huge fa of James Dawson but I have to admit I was also curious about it too.

Being A Boy is a book that guides teenage boys through the minefield that is puberty, it talks frankly about the changes that they will go through both physically and emotionally and James Dawson doesn't pull any punches. He talks openly and honestly about the good and bad and this is a brilliant resource for teenagers who have questions about everything from talking to girls, first dates, being a boyfriend and even sex. Yes, this book will give teenagers the low down on sex, real sex not just the kind they'll find out about by looking up porn on the internet.

I'm sure that there will be some people out there who are horrified by how detailed this book can be but I think it's a wonderful resource that should be given to every teenage boy you know. This book answers the questions that boys are probably too embarrassed to ask an adult about and dispels the myths that are probably flying around the classroom at school. It gives advice on protecting yourself from STIs or unwanted pregnancy but it does it in an incredibly humorous and non-judgemental way. The whole book is written in that manner and I love that it is so honest about things. The most important message of all is that there is no such thing as normal, it doesn't matter if you're a boy who likes girls, boys or even both. It doesn't matter if you go through puberty before or after your friends do, everyone is different and it's all natural.

Being A Boy aims to fill the gap between what teenagers are taught in school and what they'll discover for themselves using the internet. I dread to think of the kind of things that they uncover by spending five minutes on google and this is certainly a way of making sure they get a more realistic view of sex. That isn't the only topic covered though and I'd say the parts about being a decent human being are just as important, if not more so. The overriding message throughout the book is to treat others as you'd like to be treated yourself, it speaks out against bullying and sexism and is all for equality. As much as this is aimed at boys there is actually a lot of advice on the emotional side of dating that is equally relevant to girls as well and I'm sure most teenagers could learn something from this book.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Review: Magic Breaks - Ilona Andrews

No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it...

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear...

The Kate Daniels Series:
A Questionable Client (Short Story in the Magic Graves anthology)
Magic Bites
Magic Burns
Magic Strikes
Magic Mourns (Novella included in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Bleeds
Magic Dreams (Novella included in the Hexed anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Slays
Magic Tests (Short Story included in the An Apple for the Creature anthology)
Magic Gifts (Novella available for a limited time as a free ebook from the authors and included in the print version of Gunmetal Magic)
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniel's World book 1)
Retribution Clause (Short Story in the Hex Appeal anthology)
Magic Rises
Magic Breaks
Magic Steals (Novella in the Night Shift anthology) (November 2014)
Magic Shifts (2015)

Visit Ilona Andrews' website for more information

Review:
I've said it before but I'll say it again - I'm an Ilona & Gordon Andrews fan girl, in fact, I'm a total addict of this series and Kate & Curran are one of my favourite fictional couples ever. So it would be fair to say that I was excited to get my hands on an advanced copy of Magic Breaks. In fact I was so excited about it that I actually read it twice before the release date - that's how fantastic this book is. So, you're probably wondering why it has taken me so long to write this review and my answer is that I've been feeling intimidated. How can I possibly describe the level of awesome that this book (in fact, this entire series!) has reached? I'm afraid to say that this review will probably involve a lot of gushing but I've decided that I just have to share my feelings about it and hope you'll forgive me for lack the of sensible insight.

Fans of the series will already know that this book is the cumulation of the long running story arc with Kate's father Roland, that doesn't mean this is the end of the series, just that Magic Breaks is a game changer. This confrontation has been a long time coming and it's fair to say expectations were high for Kate and Roland's first face to face meeting. I've spent a lot of time throughout the books wondering what would happen when they met but I don't think I could ever have been fully prepared for what actually happens. The showdown is nothing like I was expecting but it has totally set things up for exciting things in the future. That ending was epic and I can't wait to see where things go from here.

I love how much Kate has grown as a person throughout this series, she has come such a long way but she still has a lot to learn about her abilities and she doesn't have full control over her powers yet. The most special thing about these books has been seeing her go from a lonely young woman who felt she had to keep everyone at a distance to someone who has close friends and a self-made little family that she would give her life to protect. She has worked hard to find her place in the Pack and she comes into her own even more in this book when she has to take charge while Curran is absent. I love how her relationship with Curran has developed too, they have become such a strong couple and no matter what happens they never lose faith in each other. I adore them both and find myself wanting to reread every single moment they spend together.

I don't want to say too much about the plot of Magic Breaks because I would hate to give spoilers but I will mention a few other highlights. I loved the bickering between Derek and Ascanio who had me laughing out loud numerous times with their antics. Kate's confrontation with Jennifer was a long time coming but so worth the wait - that really was the best smack down EVER. I enjoyed getting to learn a bit more about Ghastek and his background and I'm actually kind of starting to like the guy. Andrea is awesome and she always has Kate's back no matter how dangerous the situation, how fantastic is it to have more than one strong female character in a series! Magic Breaks is everything I want from a book in this series, it is humorous and has some fantastic one liners, it is action packed and full of unexpected surprises and most of all it has the best characters, the strongest friendships and a wonderful relationship between the main characters. There is so much to love about these books and it's quite unusual to find a series that is still this fresh and exciting seven books down the line, I never want it to end.

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Hardback / Paperback / Kindle:

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Review: Take Back the Skies - Lucy Saxon

Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She's one of the privileged - she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.

So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat's world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . .

Take Back the Skies Series:
Take Back the Skies
Future titles and release dates to be confirmed

Visit Lucy Saxon's website for more information

Review:
Take Back the Skies is another one of those books that has had a huge amount of hype surrounding it but unfortunately in this case it failed to live up to expectations. What makes that sadder is that there is the start of a really good story in there somewhere but it kind of ended up getting lost in the mediocre writing. I actually don't have a huge amount to say about this one so I'm going to keep this review fairly brief but if I had to describe Take Back the Skies in one word then it would have to be forgettable.

There was nothing about the characters that made them stand apart, they're all quite bland and I didn't really come to feel invested in their lives or the story. Cat has lived a privileged life because her father works for the government, she has been cosseted and spoiled but she hates the restrictions her father places on her. She is expected to act like a lady and to marry someone of her father's choosing when she would much rather live life on her own terms. You have to admire her pluck for running away from home and stowing away on an airship but from that point on everything seems to happen far too quickly and easily. The crew have been aware of government corruption for a long time but they are suddenly brave enough to do something about it when Cat comes along when they never would have attempted it before. I found it hard to believe that someone as young and inexperienced as Cat would have so much useful knowledge and be able to be the driving force behind a rebellion that adults had never dared to attempt without her.

There is a "romance" between her and fellow crew member Fox but it felt forced and completely unbelievable. He spends the majority of the book treating her badly yet within a couple of weeks she considers him the love of her life. I just didn't buy it. Then you throw in a poor attempt at a love triangle with another character who seemed particularly weak and insipid and I was about done. To be fair the author does resolve the triangle in the first book and she does it in a completely unexpected way but even though I hadn't felt invested in the romance I found the ending unsatisfactory and actually felt kind of cheated.

To give Lucy Saxon her dues she wrote this novel when she was only 16 years old and to have a book published at just 19 is a pretty impressive achievement. Unfortunately the book reads like it was written by a 16 year old and that wasn't really a good thing. The book might work better for younger readers but when there are so many amazing young adult books out there I would struggle to recommend this to anyone. I just felt like the story could have been so much more if it had gone through a harsher editing process, it just needed that extra something to take it from an okay story to a really good one. This is the first book in a series but if I'm honest I just don't care enough about any of the characters to want to continue reading about them, by the time a year has gone by I won't even remember this book's name let alone any of the plot!

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

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