Book Review #69: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Wednesday, 21 October 2015 2 comments
Title: Dorothy Must Die
AuthorDanielle Paige
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: eBook
Publication Date: April 1st 2014
Pages: 452
SourceBought
Rating☆☆☆
PurchaseThe Book Depository / Waterstones

I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado - taking you with it - you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a yellow brick road - but even that's crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I've been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

Taking a well known classic and flipping it on its head is no easy task and yet I find myself questioning how easily Danielle Paige pulled it off with Dorothy Must Die! Taking a twister over the rainbow, fans of the truly beloved classic will find themselves far from their comfort zone as they enter the world of Oz as it's never been seenAs warped and twisted as the beloved Oz may seem, Danielle Paige certainly gives fans of the series a reason to stick around as she ventures the other girl from Kansas around this tortured land to meet the anti-heroes whom we once all loved. 

From the get go I knew this was going to be a series I would be involved in for a while. The characters were feisty, the world building was phenomenal and the plot was structurally sound. With our main antagonist, Dorothy, who no longer represents innocence but alas sports the personality of a glamoured diva, we as readers are definitely exposed to a whole new take on a pre-built story. 

Plot wise, I never found myself to be bored. With build up, hype and twists appearing quicker than you could click your heels, Paige brings a refreshing new bestseller than will have fans pawing for more. Flipping the expectations of the wicked on its head, the plot centres around a group known as The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked and their plot to assassinate their dictator. Dorothy must die, and who better to do it than the other girl prophesied to arrive by cyclone.

Now don't get me wrong, the character of Amy Gumm is not one that will be remembered as the 'other girl' for long, because as readers become more involved with her, they'll soon realise her feisty and determined second nature that will make them question just how far from Kansas they really are. Bundled with romantic interests, kickass side characters and deranged antiheroes to combat against, Paige's characters really do pack a memorable punch that will mess with your feelings as you root for your favourites and scorn the villains. 

I will admit there were a few elements that I saw could perhaps use some work, as the rush and urgency of Amy's decisions were largely based in light of her romantic interest. For me, this unfortunately seemed to take an uneasy preference at times where often it seemed unnecessary. I'm a stickler for romance done right in YA- I don't mind it being present but I strongly feel it shouldn't over-arch the main story. Sometimes we as readers go longing for adventures, purely for the adventure. Sometimes feelings get in the way and disrupt our enjoyment if introduced in a plaguing manner. 

Overall it was a touchingly powerful debut that breaks the mould of retellings. I think I would class it as on similar levels as The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - if Paige continues this level of suspense and surprise in her future books in this trilogy then I openly await their embrace. I award Dorothy Must Die a three out of five star rating on my classification scale. With a breathtaking, heart-pounding and eerie endings, readers will await the sequel with itching suspense.

Book Review #68: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Tuesday, 6 October 2015 0 comments
Title: This Shattered World (Starbound #2)
AuthorAmie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardback
Publication DateDecember 23rd 2014
Pages390
SourceBought
Rating☆☆☆
PurchaseThe Book Depository / Waterstones


Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.
After the success of These Broken Stars, I eagerly ventured into the sequel, This Shattered World expecting the same heart racing pacing, action packed storyline and loveable characters. Did I get this from the sequel after being introduced to a new set of star-crossed lovers from either end of an ongoing war? Partially, yes. 

The concept of this book was completely different from the first, and whilst the underlining story arc behind the intentions of LaRoeux Industries was present, this book could very easily of held out on it's own. That's what I love about this series so far - because we're presented with a new story each time with links to the side plot, it keeps everything fresh and desirable. Now plot wise this novel focused very much so on the Romeo Juliet idea that was heavily present in this novel. With a solider from one side and a rebel from the other, we're brought together and introduced to these characters and the ideals they bold hold. Obviously we knew from the idea that there was going to be some difficultly in attaining their happiness, however I found the way it was approached in this book was new and totally refreshing to how it's been pitched before. My only issue with the plot was that because so much was held back until the reveal towards the end, it felt quite disjointed as you went along reading. I feel that it witheld a lot of my enjoyment in comparison to the first book, which is such a shame because I was expecting a lot of the twists and turns to keep me on my feet and sadly these weren't as present.

Similarly to the first book, the beauty of the writing continued and flourished in this instalment. It was fluid and vivd, making it once again very easy to picture everything that was going on. In my review of These Broken Stars, I mentioned that I looked forward to seeing more of the breaks between the chapters, hoping they would be filled with content just as rewarding as the interview logs from the first book. Whilst we were introduced to Jubilee's dream sequences, I found them to be extremely confusing and unfortunately not very linear. Because of this, I struggled to fully understand what was happening and this sapped into my enjoyment of the novel.

Onto the characters. We're introduced to a new set of star-crossed lovers in this book, Jubilee and Flynn. Each brought their own unique traits to the table and individually I thoroughly enjoyed them. Jubilee was spunky and driven whilst Flynn was dramatic and determined. They complimented each other really well, but in my opinion I feel a close friendship would have worked better than their romantic relationship because I found Flynn to be very pitiful in his desire for Jubilee. Unlike Tarver and Lilac's gradual relationship, whilst this one didn't flourish until about 70% of the way through, it felt very sudden. Although I appreciated it slightly, I really felt their strong willed natures would have complimented a badass friendship more than a romantic one.

So overall This Shattered World didn't pack as much of a punch as perhaps I had hoped for. Whether this was because I had my expectations too high after the delight of the first book, I don't know. I still enjoyed this book though and I definitely will be completing this series at a later date because I am so invested in this story and these characters now, that I need to find out what happens in the finale. I'm also excited to meet the two new characters we have promised in the next instalment - I think they'll work well and I'm looking forward to what I hope to be an inevitable reunion of the previously beloved pairs. I award This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner a 3 out of 5 star rating on my classification scale! 

Book Review #67: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Title: These Broken Stars
AuthorAmie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardback
Publication Date: December 10th 2013
Pages: 378
Source: Bought
Rating☆☆☆☆
PurchaseThe Book Depository / Waterstones


It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets to the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they're worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other's arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder - would they be better off staying in this place forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won't be the same people who landed on it.
Oh guys, this book. This book! I was so in the mood for a Sci-Fi and this definitely brought all of the elements to the table. To be fair it did originally take me two attempts to get into it because the first chapter felt very draggy, but as soon as you get past that, you're off on an action packed adventure filled with unexpected twists and turns. Now this book is very highly compared to the film Titanic, and I urge you not to believe these words. The only similarity this book has to Titanic is that the ship crashes. That is it. Beyond that it's a science fiction based survival story on an unknown world. It's fantastic. I seriously urge you to read it.

The writing style of this book was phenomenal and you could never tell for a second that it was co-authored. Amie and Meagan do a very fluid job at telling the story and making sure that you are aware of everything that is going on. Their scenic writing was beautiful, creating a very vivid image of the character's surroundings. It really drew you in and made you feel as if you were actually within the story. Also, the chapters were broken up into flash forwards to the events after the book, told in a set of interview logs and these are the basis for telling the story. It's worked really well and I would love to see more of these breaks in the future instalments. 

Plot wise, there was never a dull moment. Even in the beginning (although slow at first) the story kicks off and we're introduced to our main characters. As everything shifts and the scenery changes, you are pulled into a new world where everything is thought through logically and quickly, so if you miss something you're going to get left behind! The pacing of this book was incredibly fluid, so you're never finding yourself bored or sick of reading. I found it difficult to actually put this book down I was so involved.This book was not what I expected it to be. I expected it to be a very light and breezy read that told the basic survival story. Oh my was I wrong! This book has an undercurrent that pitches the story arc for the entire series. I'm not going to spoil it for you because it is very dramatic, but this book definitely breaks the mould of the survival stereotype.

As for the characters, in the beginning I was torn between whether I enjoyed Lilac's character. If her pretentious name didn't scream 'ugh' for me then I didn't know what would. However, I was so pleasantly surprised. In the beginning we have this facade that clouds Lilac and pitches her as the spoilt little rich girl, but as the survival instincts are forced to the surface, we realise she's so much more important and influential as a character, and therefore making her so much more likeable. Tarver on the other hand was very likeable from the get go. He is strong willed, determined and yet has a hardened surface to him that works very well considering his back story. Together these characters worked excellently together and I really believed the relationship that began to flourish between these characters. Whilst it was sweet, it was built up from hardened times and I love when relationships are born from that element. With the characters, this book also takes a very personal and emotional stand and goes well out of it's way to make the reader genuinely feel for what is happening to these characters. I have to admit there was certainly a scene that had me choking up and trying to catch my breath before turning the next page.

Overall, this book was filled with intense turns that I didn't expect and it definitely sets you up for other books in the series. The story arc is already one I'm invested in and I'm excited to see how the other characters come to play in this series. I only hope we can get more of Lilac and Tarver in it too! I award These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner a 4 out of 5 star rating on my classification scale! 

September Book Haul


Hey guys! I thought I'd do a little post that amalgamates all of the photos I've put together on Instagram over the past few weeks to document the books I got in the month of September! Now these are a combination of books that I've either bought myself, been given by my blogging friends or have been sent by the wonderful people in the publishing industry! I thought I'd turn this into a monthly segment for my blog so you guys can see the books that I'll be reviewing in the near future, and hopefully this builds up your excitement for them as much as mine!

So without further ado, here are the books that I received in the month of September!
























Last month I continued my trend by saying I was lucky. This month was beyond that, and frankly I found it to be a little bit crazy! This month I totalled up 27 books and 1 manuscript (which you'll see later.) I honestly don't know where I've found the space for these books but somehow I've managed it. In terms of purchasing books, I don't think I did terribly but I definitely received more than my fair share and I am incredibly grateful! As always, I intend to get to these books as soon as possible (and some of them I already have) but we'll see how that goes.


STARTING OFF WITH THE BOOKS I WAS SENT FOR REVIEW THIS MONTH:

This month was ridiculous. 19 books I received from publishers. 19 books! There are more that I received however as I plan to give them away at some point due to me either already owning copies or have no use for them, I only included the books that will actually stay on my shelves. I cannot express into words how grateful I am for each and everyone of these books, lucky doesn't even cover it.
There are definitely some of my highly anticipated releases of the year in here - including Queen of Shadows, Truthwitch and Library of Souls. I also received an advanced manuscript this month from a publishing house, with the book coming out in 2016!

This month I received books from: Bloomsbury, PGUK, UK Tor, Rock the Boat, Scholastic, Headline, Puffin and Titan Books.


These are the books I received and their release dates:

  • The Secrets of Drearcliffe Grange School by Kim Newman (October 23rd 2015)
  • The Lazarus Gate by Mark A. Latham (October 2nd 2015)
  • Minus Me by Ingelin Rosalind (July 14th 2015)
  • Conversion by Katherine Howe (June 4th 2014)
  • Mindwalker by A.J. Steiger (June 4th 2015)
  • Nest by Esther Ehrlich (July 2nd 2015)
  • George by Alex Gino (August 25th 2015)
  • Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs (September 22nd 2015)
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (January 5th 2016)
  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas (September 1st 2015)
  • The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands (September 3rd 2015)
  • Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan (February 12th 2015)
  • When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Monaghan (January 1st 2015)
  • There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake (January 6th 2015)
  • The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (July 3rd 2014)
  • The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (March 15th 2015)
  • The Light That Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew (November 5th 2015)
  • Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith (September 1st 2015)
  • The Island by Olivia Levez (April 12th 2016)


MOVING ONTO THE BOOKS I WAS GIVEN BY FRIENDS:

Last month, I got to go to a wonderful blogger's brunch at the Rock the Boat publishing house. Two of my blogger friends (Beth and Andrew) were asking if anyone wanted to take any books off of their hands, and being the generous person I am, I took the plunge and volunteered to ease their burden!

They are both such lovely people! Thank you Andrew and Beth!


These are the books and their release dates:

  • Golden Son by Pierce Brown (January 8th 2015)
  • We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Neilsen (April 30th 2015) 

MOVING ONTO THE BOOKS I BOUGHT:


This month I didn't do too badly on bought books! When I was down in London for the blogger's brunch I bought a book from Foyles and a book from Waterstones Piccadilly! I also treated myself to a graphic novel, a sequel to a book I've been waiting for, a matching sized hardcover, an author's original series and a discounted popular book! I probably could have done without one or two of these books, but they called out to me as per usual!


These are the books and their release dates:

  • Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (September 1st 2012)
  • End of Days by Susan Ee (May 12th 2015)
  • Asking for It by Louise O'Neill (September 3rd 2015)
  • Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neil (July 3rd 2014)
  • New World: Ashes by Jennifer Wilson (September 18th 2015)
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (May 12th 2015)
  • This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (December 23rd 2014)
So there we have it! All 28 books! Oh my goodness I really need to slow down. This month I have put myself on a limited book buying ban. Although I am attending YA Shot at the end of the month, so we'll see how that goes! Thank you to everyone who has sent me/ given me books! As always, I really appreciate it! Let's see if I can keep the book haul under 15 next month, shall we? I'm aiming not to request as many books!

Let me know what books you guys have recently purchased/received for review etc in the comments below or on any of my social media platforms. I'd love to hear about them! If you have any specific recommendations then definitely let me know, I'm always open to suggestions!

Book Review # 66: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Monday, 5 October 2015 0 comments
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Rock the Boat. 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: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
AuthorAmie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: October 22nd 2015
Pages: 608
SourceReview Copy from Publisher
Rating☆☆☆☆

PurchaseThe Book Depository / Waterstones
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Going into this book I knew I was in the mood for a sci-fi, but when it comes to Sci-Fi I find it really hard to find something I really enjoy and can become completely absorbed in. Whilst up until reading Illuminae, I hadn't ventured into Amie or Jay's previous work, this was definitely a book that screamed out to me. As a beast at 600 pages and told in a variety of hacked documents, Illuminae weaves a tale of suspense and danger that at the same time touches the hearts of it's readers. 

First and foremost I have to discuss the way that the novel is formatted, because obviously it's told in a variety of documents that slowly begin to tell the tale of Kady and Ezra. I really enjoyed the diversity of these documents because they were never entirely identical. You had medical reports, schematics, email logs and many others. Take a look at some of these awesome photos of the layout of this book:
Aren't they phenomenal? I've never quite seen a novel formatted this way before!

As for the plot of this book, I found it to be enlightening. Whilst at times some of the science fiction tropes seemed slightly predictable, on the other hand they completely surprised me all at the same time. Something that is extremely difficult to accomplish successfully and yet Kaufman and Kristoff pulled it off flawlessly. Illuminae follows the journey of two teens caught up in a intergalactic battle fought by two rival corporations. However, not is all as it seems as with a rogue AI unit thrown into the mix and a deadly virus slowly working it's way through the ship and infecting its inhabitants, Illuminae is more than you could imagine from a science fiction novel.

What I found most incredible about this novel and the use of the AI unit, 'Aiden', was the way that he was brought to life and given enough substance to become a enjoyable and understandable character that stood on their own. Whilst at times I suppose the popular conventions seemed to come into play, the way Kaufman and Kristoff gave the AI a conscience, we as a reader could see quite visually in the book, exactly what motives drives Aiden to do what he did. What was stunning was frankly the way that they created a character that very much lingered in the background and brought him to the forefront of the novel and actually made him believable. All of his motives were accounted for, even if they were slightly homicidal at times. For a reader, creating a believable character, especially an antagonist is no easy feat and yet the strong connection to Aiden's character that Kaufman and Kristoff have built is one I'm sure readers shall appreciate!

As aforementioned, what amazed me about the plot of this novel was just how many elements were woven into such an already complex scenario, and yet all gelled together smoothly and added an amazing level of depth to the story. I loved the integration of the infected and the whole 'Don't Look At Me' pitch. It was ridiculously creepy and the way the infected were engaged with in the story really made it feel realistic, as if you could physically imagine yourself running from them. You could also really see how their minds were slowly getting more warped as time went on. The little elements like this really made up the story. When they're not torturing or planning their slow, bloody demise, Kaufman and Kristoff take such care in creating meaningful story arcs for their characters and it's definitely something that readers will be able to pick up on and appreciate as they work their way through the book. 

As the plot progresses, we as readers are exposed to some very powerful plot twists along the way - some of which literally had me gripping the edge of my seat in anticipation. Without spoiling it, there is one major twist that was done to such dramatic effect that it worked superbly in the author's favour. Whilst at first I felt slightly confused on the event, it was an interesting twist that really does build up a great deal of anticipation for the sequel. 

In regards to characters, we're introduced to our main protagonists Kady and Ezra right from the beginning, and the way that their lives were woven together played out really well. I enjoyed that their was no insta-love between these characters because there had already been some sort of relationship prior to the book, so any romantic gestures made between each of them felt natural and self-occurring. It never felt forced when reading it and the reactions that occurred between them in times of crisis felt extremely realistic. As individual characters, we were exposed to a great deal of depth into their own endeavours on the ships, and whilst I felt we got sufficient understanding of Ezra's ventures and the development of his job role since being aboard, I felt Kady's lacked slightly in depth - only ever so slightly. I am very appreciative of her hacking qualities and the development of this trait, however there was little to no mention of a similar job or integration into the lifestyle of the ship prior to Aiden's imminent attack, as Ezra had been exposed to. I would have liked to have seen a small mention of this, even if her character elected to ignore it. I think this would have only added to the rebellious nature of her character. 

On a whole I thoroughly loved the dynamics of each of our main protagonists and I thought the side characters played well into the story. There were definitely some characters story arc's that I could easily have read more into and one in particular I'm strongly hoping we'll get more insight into in the future. Something tells me that they're part in the tale is not quite over. Kady as a character is strong willed, dynamic, intelligent and brutally raw. She's probably one of my favourite female protagonists that I've come across this year, so that makes me very happy. She's also very mysterious in her ways. To the reader it's quite obvious to see who she is and that she's a lot more ambitious and strong of wit than her visage leads her to believe. Ezra on the other hand is a lot less impulsive and more reclined in his actions. He's very practical and thinks on his feet to stay alive - instead of rushing about. He's also very focused and dedicated to what he strives for - more specifically to protecting Kady. This comes across very strongly not only in the communications between himself and Kady but also the actions he takes to appose the resisting forces. 

All in all, this was a very powerful debut collaboration for these authors. It's such an effective and unique tale that whilst targets powerful sci-fi tropes, brings a fresh new twist on the idea. I award Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff a 4 out of 5 star rating on my classification scale. From reading this book and seeing all of the hype that surrounds it, I can clearly see that this is going to be a popular series to look out for! So keep your eyes peeled!

  

The Lazarus Gate Book Birthday and Giveaway!

Friday, 2 October 2015 0 comments
Hey guys! I'm here today to celebrate the UK publication day of The Lazarus Gate by Mark A. Latham! I was sent a copy to review by the lovely people at Titan Books and I am so excited to get to it. It's definitely one I'm going to be trying out in the spooky month of October! 


Happy Book Birthday!


Title: The Lazarus Gate
Author: Mark A. Latham
Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: October 2nd 2015
Pages: 400
Purchase: The Book Depository / Waterstones

London, 1890. Captain John Hardwick, an embittered army veteran and opium addict, is released from captivity in Burma and returns home, only to be recruited by a mysterious gentlemen’s club to combat a supernatural threat to the British Empire.


This is the tale of a secret war between parallel universes, between reality and the supernatural; a war waged relentlessly by an elite group of agents; unsung heroes, whose efforts can never be acknowledged, but by whose sacrifice we are all kept safe.

Doesn't that sound like such an interesting premise? Sort of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman meets Ghost Busters!

To celebrate this momentous release date, the wonderful people at Titan Books have given me 2 extra copies of The Lazarus Gate to giveaway to my wonderful followers! To be in with the chance of winning one of these copies, all you have to do is follow my Twitter account (@theblogbookshop) and retweet the tweet below!
So there we have it! Happy Book Birthday to Mark and The Lazarus Gate! Remember if you're wanting the chance to win a copy of the book then just follow the intstructions above. You have until the 9th October 2015 to enter, and please be aware that this giveaway is for people who have a UK postal address only! As much as I would like to ship internationally, I just don't have the funds, sorry!





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark A. Latham is a writer, editor, history nerd, frustrated grunge singer and amateur baker from Staffordshire, UK. A recent immigrant to Nottingham, he lives in a very old house (sadly not haunted), and is still regarded as a foreigner. Formerly the editor of White Dwarf magazine, Mark dabbled in tabletop games design before becoming a full-time author. A writer of strange, fantastical and macabre tales, his short stories have been published by Titan Books and Black Library Publishing. Mark's d├ębut novel, The Lazarus Gate, is available now from all good bookstores.

September Wrap Up & October TBR

Thursday, 1 October 2015 2 comments


So I thought I would start a little segment on my blog that I know is very popular around the book blogging community and that is to discuss what I read in the previous month and what I intend, or hope to read in the following month. So here goes nothing, this is my September Wrap Up and my TBR for the month of October!

September for me was a bit of a disappointing month because I didn't get to near as many books as I thought I would. I just wasn't in the greatest of reading moods in the middle of the month and it probably didn't help that the book I was reading was a bit of a drag. Lifestyle wise I wasn't called into work so I had plenty of time to sit and read, but I just didn't utilise it as much as I should have. It's such a disappointment to me and I know it shouldn't be considering I've already completed my challenge for the year, but oh well. This month I managed to get through 6 books, one of which I unfortunately had to DNF. In the long run, it's not too bad because that's my average per month, but still, I expected better from myself. In terms of excitement for these books, I had some really amazing books, some average books and a disappointment, which is always a shame. In terms of the yearly reading challenge, I am currently standing at 63/50 books, meaning I am 26 books ahead of schedule and only 12 books away from my new target of 75 books! I can do this, easily, I know it! So without further ado, let's see what books I read this month and my opinions on them!

1. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas (5/5 stars)
This was an absolutely stunning addition to what is an incredible fantasy series. There are so many unique elements brought into this story that blend together so well and just work. Queen of Shadows is definitely my favourite of the series so far purely for the amount of depth that Sarah has put into the development of her characters. It's absolutely phenomenal and I cannot wait to see what she has up her sleeve for them next .No book is more rightly deserving of such a prestigious rating, and I can clearly see why this book is going to be one of the largest and most popular releases of the year.



2. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (3/5 stars)
After thoroughly enjoying the first book in this Sci-Fi series I dived straight into this book and whilst I did enjoy it, there were elements that just didn't hold up to my enjoyment of the first book. I loved the creation of depth behind exactly what the antagonist is doing, and the new characters were both really complex and enjoyable. However, I didn't see them on a romantic level, which was clearly what the book was hinting at. The dream sequences were in between chapters were incredibly confusing and I found some scenes to be quite questionable in their necessity in the story. Will I be continuing on? Yes, I need to find out what happens!


3. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (4/5 stars)
I really enjoyed this book! As a retelling of one of my favourite classics, I was hesitant as to whether Danielle Paige's story was going to be up to scratch or whether it was going to crumble. Thankfully it was an incredibly powerful novel. Everything slid into place like it was coming from the imagination of L. Frank Baum himself and I loved the twisted and warped version of Oz - and Dorothy was creepy and delightfully sick. I loved all of the scenes where she was involved. Everything just made me skin crawl. Toxic bubbles that melt your skin? Sign me up! We also had a kick ass main female protagonist who had genuine spunk which made me love her even more. She kicked ass.

4. The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (2/5 stars/DNF)
Mmm. There is so much to say about this book and not even enough room to rant about it. After the success of Dorothy Must Die, The Wicked Will Rise fell in comparison, and I don't mean a little bit. It fell and smashed into the ground, crushing my enjoyment like the Wicked Witch of the East under Dorothy's house. My main concern with this novel was the voice of the main character, Amy. In the first book she was spunky, feisty and genuinely a kick ass protagonist. In this book it was if she was a completely different character. Suddenly her dialogue was cheesy and childishly argumentative, as if a child were debating on the playground, and all of her motives lacked confidence and the assertiveness she gained in the first book. In terms of the plot, it all felt rushed and disjointed - as if someone was trying to meet a deadline in a hurry. I had to DNF this book, but I will be reading it again in the future when Yellow Brick War comes out. I need to see if this series has potential, even if I have to painfully struggle through the second book.

5. George by Alex Gino (4/5 stars)
This book was outstanding and I couldn't recommend it enough. Although it's aimed at a middle grade audience, I would not begrudge shoving it into the hands of virtually anyone. This is a powerful story in a world where not everything is black and white and it needs to be explored further. You can bet that this book will be introduced into my classroom and readily available for any of my students to read it. George's struggle needs to be made aware and her message needs to be shared; be who you are.


6. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas (5/5 stars)
Oh this book, THIS BOOK, was everything. It was purely perfect and I cannot believe I have not read it sooner. Being a huge fan of Sarah's Throne of Glass series, I have no idea why I didn't expect it to be just as perfect. Starting off as a Beauty in the Beast retelling, this book grows into it's own unique tale with very rememberable characters, tremendously written scenes and even some steamy romance for those who enjoy more than just a brief kiss and sudden instalove. This book was one that whilst it felt long, I was very happy for it to be. The plot grew and we slowly become more involved into the underlying story arc. For me, my favourite scenes were probably the last quarter of the book, when we got to meet Amarantha and learn about her control over the kingdom. She is a truly maleficent villain and I adored her. She reminded me a lot of Manon from Sarah's other series, just without the compassion in her heart.

So those were the 6 books I read in the month of September! As for October, I'm hoping to get some work from my agency so there is a possibility that I'll have some travelling time to read. As it's Halloween at the end of this month, I was hoping to read some books that are slightly creepier, or peculiar in nature. Hopefully the books I've picked out for my TBR reflect that, but I do have a lot of ARC's that I need to get to reading and they don't all fit the bill of being Halloween reads! We'll play it by ear and see how it goes. I'm going to be quite generous with my TBR and make it quite lengthy so that I have plenty of books to choose from if I get bored. So without further ado, here is my TBR for the month of October!
  • The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands (ARC)
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (ARC)
  • Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
  • The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School by Kim Newman (ARC)
  • The Lazarus Gate by Mark A. Latham (ARC)
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Re-read)
  • Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  • Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs (ARC)
So those are the books that I am aiming to read some of in the month of October. I know it's adventurous and we'll see how it goes knowing my reading mood, but here's hoping I get some of them done at least. I'm aiming to read an entire series this month so I can't say I'm not determined to aim high! 

Let me know in the comments below what books you read this month and one book you're looking forward to reading next month! Are any of you going to be reading one of the books I'm reading this month?

Welcome to The Blogger's Spookshop! Wait, what?

Hey guys! I'm here today just with a very brief update to what you can expect to see from my blog over the next couple of months, especially with some seasonal holidays coming up soon! 

So you may have noticed a little change to the design of my blog, and the name. Fret not, I haven't gone delusional and think everyday is Halloween. I'm just theming things up a bit. Let me explain...


After seeing a lot of people last year changing their blog names to something Halloween themed when it came to the holiday of Halloween, I decided that this year it would be a good idea to jump on that band wagon - and then to take it that little bit further. I have decided to change my blog up a bit to match a certain theme to match the holiday seasons throughout the year. 

Now I will admit, there are probably too many seasonal holidays to keep track of, and as much as I would love to be diverse, I just can't celebrate and portray all of them! I'd spend more time designing logos than I actually would reading and writing my reviews. So for this idea I'm going to follow three major holidays in the year - Halloween, Christmas and Easter. During the months that these periods fall on you can expect a little change to the blog, a change that will accommodate a colour scheme that in my opinion, matches the holiday perfectly.

For Halloween, I've chosen the colours; purple, orange and black, because really they are stereotypical colours associated with Halloween! For Christmas you can expect lots of red and green combinations and for Easter, well it's got to be pastel shades of yellow, blue, pink, purple ect. Lot's of really vibrant and yet slightly childish colours to get ready for the holiday season!

So sit back and enjoy the Halloween theme throughout the month of October, because as soon as November 1st comes around, this theme will return to the grave it arose from for it's yearly nap and we'll return to the regular The Blogger's Bookshop site!

In the mean time, I hope you enjoy your stay here at The Blogger's Spookshop! I hope you're not afraid of the things that go bump in the night...Mwahahahaha! 

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