Sunday, 21 January 2018

Book Review: The Cruel Prince; Holly Black.

Have you ever read a book that you're finding only 'meh' and it's disappointing you a bit because the hype train really built it up for you but then just as you're thinking of giving up on it *BAM* it hits you with the good feels SO HARD? Yeah.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Cruel Prince
AUTHOR: Holly Black
SERIES: The Folk Of The Air (#1)
Hot Key Books
PAGES: 384
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

What I Liked:
  • The last third of this book knocked my socks off. Honestly, it had the perfect mix of court intrigue, well thought-out plot twists, amazing character development and sizzling chemistry (*swoon*) that I'd hoped to see in this book the whole way through. It just felt like a huge reward after I'd struggled with the beginning and I read it all smiling!
  • I struggled with Jude to begin with, but in the end her characterisation led itself down a dark path...and I liked it! She was so badass! Normally cold-hearted schemers aren't my thing but she felt so real. She still had depth, even if she was dangerous. In fact all the characters did, and I liked her relationships with everyone she interacted with.
  • The land of Faerie was really cool to read about, and built really well. At times there was a little too much over-explanation but as Black's 'Modern Faerie Tales' series is very much urban fantasy, it was nice to see her create a whole new world of the fae! Speaking of her other series, I loved Roiben and Kaye's little cameo! So glad to see these books connected in some way!
What I Disliked:
  • I mentioned loving the ending, but boy, getting there was rough! It wasn't bad per se but it felt like nothing happened. It was just Jude and her sister attending lessons, explaining Faerie lore and getting very severely bullied (trigger warning by the way, it's pretty intense). I almost gave up with this because I felt that Black really didn't know what kind of book she wanted to write to begin with. Either that or she thought up the cracking ending first and didn't really know how to get there.
Overall Conclusion:
It's weird, because I wasn't going to rate this book highly to begin with. For most of it, while the writing was good and world intriguing, there seemed to be a lot of info-dumping and filler plot-lines that didn't really lead to much. But the last third totally blew me away and made my opinion of this book sky-rocket. I'm so excited about the sequel that will come, because I know it's going to be phenomenal without having to worry about all the build-up.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (8th January - 14th January)...

I have to say, this week was pretty much filled with a whole lot of nothing! I worked a lot, and around that watched TV and did lots of reading. I've been feeling really positive these past few weeks and I've worked hard to make big changes to my life. Despite not doing a lot, I've got high hopes for the future and am very proud of how much reading I've done! Also, I've been watching a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender and love it so much!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Write Smart, Write Happy' by Cheryl St. John: Approved by Netgalley (08/01/18)
- 'The Exact Opposite Of Okay' by Laura Steven: Approved by Netgalley (08/01/18)
- 'The Belles' by Dhonielle Clayton: Approved by Netgalley (08/01/18)
- 'Paris Adrift' by E.J. Swift: Approved by Netgalley (08/01/18)
- 'The Wren Hunt' by Mary Watson: Approved by Netgalley (08/01/18)
- 'A Conjuring Of Light' by V.E. Schwab: Bought on Amazon (09/01/18)
- 'The Gods Of Love' by Nicola Mostyn: Approved by Netgalley (11/01/18)
- 'A Crown Of Wishes' by Roshani Chokshi: Bought on Amazon with Gift money (11/01/18)
- 'Clean' by Juno Dawson: Approved by Netgalley (12/01/18)


Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Book Review: Matilda; Mary Shelley.

Many will recognise the name Mary Shelley as the author of world-famous book 'Frankenstein'. But I decided to start with another of her works: 'Matilda'. I like strange stories, and knowing what it was going to be about it intrigued me that her own Father would not let her publish this. I definitely got what I came for in some ways, but I had issues with the short story too.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Matilda
AUTHOR: Mary Shelley
PAGES: 110
GENRE: Classic, Novella

RATING: 3/5 Stars

With its shocking theme of father-daughter incest, Mary Shelley’s publisher—her father, known for his own subversive books—not only refused to publish Matilda, he refused to return her only copy of the manuscript, and the work was never published in her lifetime.

His suppression of this passionate novella is perhaps understandable—unlike her first book, Frankenstein, written a year earlier, Matilda uses fantasy to study a far more personal reality. It tells the story of a young woman whose mother died in her childbirth—just as Shelly’s own mother died after hers—and whose relationship with her bereaved father becomes sexually charged as he conflates her with his lost wife, while she becomes involved with a handsome poet. Yet despite characters clearly based on herself, her father, and her husband, the narrator’s emotional and relentlessly self-examining voice lifts the story beyond autobiographical resonance into something more transcendent: a driven tale of a brave woman’s search for love, atonement, and redemption.

What I Liked:

  • I have to say that the story-line and idea behind this work really intrigued me. It was a weird plot, and anyone who has read the blurb can see why. But it certainly packed a punch! I liked watching Matilda live her life, and how her journey from joy to depression actually came about. Considering the time period, this contained some very modern ideas and I felt hints of self-awareness and mockery of the literary tropes of the time while reading.
What I Disliked:
  • This book was so much hard work! Honestly, I felt like I was reading an epic, not a 100 page novella! Most of this was due to the over-embellished, flowery writing. I sat with baited with breath waiting for the next plot phase but had to sit and read through 10+ paragraphs of Matilda's lengthy, soliloquy-esque reflections on everything that went on. It got pretty old after a while.
Overall Conclusion:
It's such a shame that this book required so much effort and I ended up skimming so much of it just to get to the end. There was a shocking idea behind this story that appealed to me and I really wanted Shelley to pull it off. The language used here was a little Shakespearean and at times very quotable but sadly, there's a reason why Shakespeare could never write a one-person show. It would drag. Still - I am intrigued by what I read. I want to learn more about her life, I sense that she had a great personality and an even greater sense of humour, and I'm definitely still well up for reading 'Frankenstein'!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Book Review: Six Of Crows; Leigh Bardugo.

I hope you're all prepared for the gushiest review EVER. I adored this book and am still smiling about how good it was! I enjoyed Bardugo's 'Grisha Verse' series a lot but never expected to be this blown away by 'Six Of Crows'!

TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: Six Of Crows
AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo
SERIES: Six Of Crows (#1)
Henry Holt & Company
PAGES: 462
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as a Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

What I Liked:

  • Above everything, the characters! There were six main players and each of them had a distinctive viewpoint and personality, which made them all interesting! My favourites were Kaz (I'm a sucker for a bad boy with a cane and a tragic past) and Inej (badass female protagonist is badass). Also, let's quickly touch upon the OTPs in this because there was more than one and I died again and again because of them. Especially Kaz & Inej! That slow-burning, romance filled with tension will keep me hooked for weeks after reading this!
  • The world-building took me by surprise actually. It's the same world as the Grisha Verse series but I realised that while Alina journeys to many different places in short spaces of time, I preferred the detail in this, even if there were less places to cover. I hope Bardugo continues with this trend! I felt that I learnt a lot more about the Grisha themselves and liked the small nods to her other books (oh HI THERE ZOYA). 
What I Disliked:
  • Uhh...nothing? Seriously! This book was flawless and has me gripped. I need 'Crooked Kingdom' to be in my grasp now because THAT CLIFFHANGER. I don't know how I feel other than feels. That's all I've been reduced to.
Overall Conclusion:
Thank you Bardugo for making this book awesome. It is the first book in a LONG time that has reminded me why it is I love reading so much! To fall for new characters, explore new worlds and pretend, even if it's just for a moment, that magic and spies and thieves exist and make cool plans to win the day! The ultimate band of anti-heroes is my dream book, because I live for anti-heroes.

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for '2017 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't'.

As I said last week, I love the beginning of the year because it's a chance for me to reflect upon my reading last year. So many great books came out that I didn't manage to read in 2017, and I'm hoping I'll get to in 2018 because they looked so exciting!

1) 'A Gentleman's Guide To Vice & Virtue' by Mackenzi Lee.

I am totally gutted that I didn't get to read this. Gutted. It looks so good, and I am really rooting for more LGBT+ books so this looks perfect for my tastes! Plus, I know this author is on the same page (*snigger*...punny) as me because she's writing a series on Loki next, my all time favourite character!

2) 'Wild Beauty' by Ann-Marie McLemore.

Just look at that cover. Magical realism is a genre I've found it hard to get on board with in the past, but I think that's because I haven't been reading the right books. I've heard a great deal of hype and adoration surrounding this book and I'm sad that I didn't get to it yet!

3) 'Meddling Kids' by Edgar Cantero.

The fact that the title of this book gave me so many childhood Scooby Doo loving flashbacks was enough to intrigue me. Teen detectives, especially in the later decades of the 1900s are definitely something I can get on board with, and this one is set in the late 70s! I'm expecting a funkier Famous Five kind of vibe, and it is so exciting!

4) 'A Crown Of Wishes' by Roshani Chokshi.

This book is beautiful. And it is on it's way to me right now! Considering how much I loved 'The Star-Touched Queen', this book went straight to the top of my 2017 anticipated releases as soon as I heard that it was happening. But actually buying it in hardcover format and reading it was just not meant to be this year. Luckily, 2018 looks to be the year!

5) 'That Inevitable Victorian Thing' by E.K. Johnston.

Surprisingly, I didn't see huge amounts of hype surrounding this book during 2017, which is weird because Johnston's previous book 'A Thousand Nights' garnered a lot of attention. And I really enjoyed that read too! The cover is beautiful and the people that have read it loved it so I can't wait to get hold of a copy for myself!

6) 'Invictus' by Ryan Graudin.

There's something about Ryan Graudin's books that just gets me excited. I loved 'The Walled City', and adored even more so her 'Wolf By Wolf' series! Now this one focuses on time travel and science fiction, and I'm ready for more of Graudin's fast-paced, explosive action which I've come to love from her.

7) 'Wonder Woman: Warbringer' by Leigh Bardugo.

The Wonder Woman film was one of my most anticipated in 2017 and, as it turned out, for good reason. It was phenomenal and really brought this classic character to the forefront of Comic Book heroes and heroines. I'm so glad that Illumicrate ensured I had a copy of this book to read, and plan to read it this year!

8) 'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber.

I think I just hear everybody reading this post collectively gasp. I know, I know. It's basically a crime that I haven't read this book and I should be thrown into the library dungeons, but I do own a copy and I promise I'm going to read it ASAP. Please don't hurt me...

9) 'Wintersong' by S. Jae-Jones.

I've been dying to read this book all year. It was another Illumicrate book that I missed out on in 2017, and is actually one of my planned reads for this month because I really wanted to read it during the Winter months! I haven't read too many books about goblins but I have thoroughly enjoyed those I did manage to get to, and this synopsis gives me Labyrinth vibes too!

10) 'One Dark Throne' by Kendare Blake.

Book one of this series left me gasping for more and asking so many questions! What a cliffhanger! I have no choice really but to get round to 'One Dark Throne' ASAP to get more action from this series, and I'm disappointed that I didn't get the opportunity to in 2017. Never mind, this book is firmly on my Kindle shelf ready!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (1st January - 7th January)...Happy New Year!

I'll be honest, I needed to use my day off on the 1st to rest after a late night out on New Year's Eve! It was good to rest and relax, especially as the rest of the week was business as usual work-wise. On the Sunday (7th) I did go back to Kent with Mat for a big family do with my Mum's side! We played games, ate lots of food and had such a lovely time! It's been good to see family so often these past few weeks.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Gingerbread' by Robert Dinsdale: Bought on Amazon (01/01/18)
- 'In The Pines' by Erik Kriek: Approved by Netgalley (05/01/18)
- 'Retribution Rails' by Erin Bowman: Bought on Amazon with Gift Money (05/01/18)

I Posted...

Planned Reads for January
Annual End Of Year Survey, 2017 Edition
My 2018 Challenge Sign-Up Post

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Book Review: In The Pines; Erik Kriek.

My first read of the year, and it wasn't even one I'd planned to read! But while it wasn't according to plan, I'm glad for this read. I've enjoyed introducing myself to more graphic novels, namely because I like art so much, and these were based on 'murder ballads' which is a genre of music I'd probably never have listened to had this book not come into my life.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: In The Pines
AUTHOR: Erik Kriek
PAGES: 136
GENRE: Graphic Novel, Crime, Mystery, Short Stories

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

A collection of murder ballads — some of which have been covered by modern masters like Nick Cave, Steve Earle, and Gillian Welch — that have been adapted into ruthless graphic narratives.

What I Liked:
  • The stories were really dark and cool. I'm a big fan of legends and these were a different kind, less supernatural but intriguing just the same. My favourite stories were 'Where The Wild Roses Go' because of the nod to a badass cowgirl, or 'Long, Black Veil' because of the twist at the end.
  • The art style suited the stories well I didn't love it, but I liked the colour schemes a lot and they were perfect contextually.Considering that this was a solo project from Kriek, I'm pretty impressed by the little details he added in.
What I Disliked:
  • I guess I would have liked a little more padding out and excitement story wise. Plots like these are mostly about building atmosphere I know, but some of them felt a little drawn out without much going on. 'Taneytown' was my least favourite story because of this.
Overall Conclusion:
These were a great collection. They certainly hooked me enough to make me abandon my original reading plans in favour of them. That being said, I would have liked to see a few panels more devoted to plot development. The art impressed me though I wasn't totally blown away and the book managed to introduce me to a new genre of music too!