A quick apology and update...

Saturday, 11 February 2017 0 comments
Hey guys! So, some of you might think that I'm finally back after a hiatus that seemed to last almost four months. However, it may surprise you to know that I never actually went anywhere!

Due to an unknown issue with my blog, I was posting regularly, however for some reason it wasn't posting my updates publicly, meaning only myself as the admin could actually see them. I have absolutely no idea how this occurred, but thankfully it has now been corrected. 

Please do enjoy the selection of reviews and posts I have put up since October, and if you are from a publishing house eagerly awaiting a book review, please do check through the past few pages of posts as it may have been uploaded a few months back and just recently actually becoming visible.

Apologies for any inconveniences. 

Book Review # 88: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Friday, 3 February 2017 0 comments
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Harper Voyager UK. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review!

Title: Nevernight
AuthorJay Kristoff
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Format: ARC
Publication DateJuly 25th 2016
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.
Known for his deadly collaborations with Amie Kaufman and his original Japanese inspired trilogy, it was of no surprise to me that Jay Kristoff would blow me out of the water with his new assassin focused novel. Kristoff introduces us to a new era with Nevernight, one that is deadly, dark, cunning and yet totally unknown! Nevernight is full of surprises, with each page providing a dark, new twist for the reader to wrap their head around. The novel is focused on the perspective of our main character, Mia Corvere, her darkened past and death-defying present. Woven creatively with clever and witty footnotes to contrast the regular reading experience, (which did take some getting used to) Kristoff enlightens his readers with an insight into the darkest assassin school I've ever read about, The Red Church, where initiates travel through pools of thick, gloopy blood that leaves you almost choking on the very life source that flows through each of our veins.

What I loved about Nevernight was that Jay Kristoff wasn't afraid to go out there in terms of darkness, and I mean really out there! If you get turned off easily by novels that explore the detailed and gory side of assassination and bloody death, then this might not perhaps be the novel for you. If, like me, you don't mind a bit of occasional graphic description, then dive right in! Nevernight is not a novel that sugarcoats anything. It casually drops vulgarity left right and centre, in the form of curse words in their extremities, intense sexual references and generally cuts out all of the filters that would regularly be found in a Young Adult novel - if you could class it as that at all. Kristoff's Nevernight goes beyond the boundaries of YA, even if the main character is a young adult herself. I, however, would definitely class this more as an Adult Fantasy novel. If you're really intrigued by what I mean by how unsurprising a Kristoff novel could be in terms of vulgarity, take a look at the first line: 

“People often shit themselves when they die, did you know that?”

Instantaneously, I was enamoured in Kristoff's previous novels by his witty humour and blunt, sarcastic comments. Nevernight doesn't disappoint in this category either. Sarcasm takes its form in the shadowy being of Mr Kindly. Reading some of the dialogue description between Mia and Mr Kindly had me chuckling at times, and definitely brought a light element to shine amongst the darkness of the themes, even if the conversations were of a dark nature themselves. One of the things that attracted me to this novel was the fact that it almost had a Hogwarts element to it. There is something about learning how to be skilled in a novel that instantly draws me to it. Perhaps it's the teacher in me that gets easily thrilled by that, or whether it is just my adoration of the Harry Potter series, like most people my age. However, Kristoff really captured the rawness of learning. It's not always easy to get to where you need to be, and you need to put in blunt hard work - even if that does count for assassination and stealing secrets. Nevertheless, Kristoff explores it effortlessly that flowed really well throughout the novel, even if he did rip my heart into shreds at one point. Page 553 I am looking at you!

Overall, Jay Kristoff invites his readers roam the streets of Godsgrave, where your own enemy could be disguised as your best friend. With lethal turns of events that will leave you clinging in anticipation, Nevernight will not disappoint. On my classification scale, I award Jay Kristoff's Nevernight a full 5 out of 5. Extremely impressed and I cannot wait to see where the adventure takes us next for Mia and Mr Kindly!

Book Review # 87: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Thursday, 19 January 2017 0 comments
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Pan Macmillan. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review!

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: ARC 
Publication DateFebruary 9th 2017
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Long before the malevolent Queen of Hearts came to be, she was an ordinary girl who simply wanted to fall in love. When I originally heard that Marissa Meyer was delving into the back story of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, I was ecstatic. Not only did I believe that Meyer produced miracles with the wondrous Lunar Chronicles, but I wondered where she could actually take the story. Well, anywhere I guess, it is Wonderland after all! Heartless surprised me actually because it wasn't the Lunar Chronicles at all, and in reflection I'm not quite sure why I expected it to be. However, that doesn't say that Heartless didn't live up to it's predecessors reputation because I actually did enjoy it.

The general plot line of Cath being a baker both amused and pleased me. It was nice to see that the portrayal of royalty could be almost ordinary. Well, at least in Cath's eyes. It was quite fitting that the Queen of Hearts, who loves her tarts, had a history and fascination with the culinary arts of baking. Whilst a royal figure who seeks escape from the tight confounds of royalty is nothing new to the YA genre, (as realistically, most YA heroines tend to hail from some position of power) it was refreshing and I appreciated Meyer's decision to write Cath in this way. Now, saying that, the plot of Cath falling in love with the Court Joker, well that led to some very assumptive predictions. What would be the one thing to change a girl of desire and adoration to the Wonderland villain we know and fear today? Love. Of course it would be. In my personal opinion, I saw this section to be slightly cliche, and I think I would have liked to have seen Cath descend into her role as the Queen of Hearts gradually. It all seemed to occur very suddenly and very conclusively.

Now, Heartless did have it's many positives, one of which exposed us as readers to Meyer's version of a twisted Wonderland; the Kingdom of Hearts. In Meyer's Wonderland we do get to meet some elements and characters from the original world such as the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. Whilst these elements added a reminiscent value to the story, I still felt that the Kingdom of Hearts could have been developed more, especially considering this is a stand alone novel. I would have liked to have explored some of the more elaborate elements of Wonderland, outside of the main realm of Hearts.

Conclusively, as a backstory for a villain, Heartless was a thoroughly enjoyable standalone novel that reinstalled my love of Marissa Meyer's iconic and mythical writing style. Whilst I could definitely have seen areas that could have been developed, obviously that is just the opinion of this blogger. On my classification scale, I'd award Heartless by Marissa Meyer a 4 out of 5 stars.

My Bookish Christmas!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017 0 comments
Why hello there!! It seems like a long while since I've posted something other than a book review! I hope you are all well after the festive season, I know my life has been rushing about, what with spending time with family and preparing to jump straight back into a new job that has me occupied the majority of the time. Honestly, I am completely surprised that I have any time to blog at all, let alone write up book reviews. Is it just me or are people finding reviews are taking so much longer to write at the minute than usual?

Anyhow, I am here today to discuss my bookish Christmas. Basically, the list of books that I received for Christmas, even though I didn't ask for any! Luckily, those closest to me know me well enough to know which books I've looked at in the past but never bought. So let's get straight into it, shall we?

Morning Star by Piece Brown (Book #3 in the Red Rising Trilogy)

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.

The Rose and The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (Book #2 in The Wrath and the Dawn Duology) 

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield  

June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one – and a secret one.

She is trapped like a butterfly in a net.

But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods.

In him she recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free.

Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom . . .

But at what price?

Hollow City (The Graphic Novel) by Ransom Riggs (Book #2 in the Miss Peregrines Trilogy)

September 3, 1940. Ten peculiar children flee an army of deadly monsters. And only one person can help them—but she’s trapped in the body of a bird.

The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine.

But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. And before Jacob can deliver the peculiar children to safety, he must make an important decision about his love for Emma Bloom. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

Cassandra Jean's evocative visuals once again work seamlessly with Hollow City's vintage photographs and Ransom Rigg's twisting fantasy narrative to make for a wholly immersive reading experience for fans of the original novels, fans graphic novels, and fans of reading great stories alike!

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Illustrated by Chris Riddell)

Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. When he helps a mysterious girl he finds bleeding on the pavement, his boring life changes in an instant.

Her name is Door, she's on the run from two assassins in black suits and she comes from London Below. His act of kindness leads him to a place filled with monsters and angels, a Beast in a labyrinth and an Earl who holds Court in a Tube train. It is strangely familiar yet utterly bizarre.

A strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.
So there we have it. There are the five books that I received for Christmas 2016. I am extremely excited to get to each of these individually, non more so than the others although. So did you guys get any books for Christmas? If so, let me know in the comments below, I'd love to see what you guys are reading and collecting at the minute!

Book Review # 86: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

Wednesday, 21 December 2016 0 comments
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Penguin. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review!

Title: Holding Up The Universe 
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Penguin
Format: ARC 
Publication DateOctober 6th 2016
Pages: 388
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed 'America's Fattest Teen'. But no one's taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum's death, she's been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby's ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he's got swagger, but he's also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can't recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He's the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can't understand what's going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don't get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world - theirs and yours.
In 2015, Jennifer Niven shocked the YA community with her deliverance of All The Bright Places, a novel I described upon review as compelling, compassionate and yet totally soul destroying. It was a novel that left an impact on me as a reader, so when I realised the announcement of a second novel entitled Holding Up The Universe, I was intrigued. Tackling such prominent and modern struggles such as weight, Niven delivers once again with Holding Up The Universe. It of course was of no surprise when I realised that Niven explores the complexity of human emotion and even branches out to exploring a condition that I hadn't even heard of. Prosopagnosia (or face-blindness) is the inability to recognise the faces of others, no matter how many times you see them. This outlook on life was a really interesting and inspiring way of looking at the world and understand the difficulties that came with living with the condition. 

As expected from a Niven novel, our two characters originate from two very different backgrounds and meet through consequence or as some may call it, 'fate.' From then on, we watch as spectators as their journeys develop and intertwine in with one another and a relationship begins to brew. Thankfully, unlike the horrors Niven expressed to us at the end of All The Bright Places, Holding Up The Universe ends in a much happier and more joyful manner. If you've read stereotypical romance novels before then I don't need to express to you the ending as you can most likely guess. However, like other romances, Jack and Libby go through their various trials during their relationship. But this book is a lot more than just romance. It explores the notion of coming to terms with who you are and not allowing others to define that. It also indicates the most important message is to understand that you are wanted, no matter what other say, because if you want yourself then that shatters any negativity coming at your from elsewhere.

With these characters comes two very distinctive voices, and both Libby and Jack were very resonant with their character traits. Libby's voice was confident, positive and at times had a fragility edge to it, whilst Jack's was often quite the opposite. Often hiding behind his asshole demeanour, Jack is simply trying to fit in and achieve normality in such a deranged world. At times I did feel a lot for Jack, and whilst I did feel for Libby the majority of the book, my heart did go out more strongly for Jack. With his condition; not being able to recognise the people you love, it's heartbreaking, and trying to overcome this idea of fitting in - well that's something that I believe most people can relate to at some point in their lives. We've all done it, haven't we? However, whilst this novel was adorable and very powerful for many reasons, I did have frustrations at times with some of the predictability, it was an enjoyable contemporary novel that shared a lot of powerful messages. Would I read it again? Certainly. I award 4 out of 5 stars to Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven. It resonates strongly as a YA contemporary novel and I would strongly urge others to read it. 

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