Saturday 31 March 2018

March Wrap-Up.

This has definitely been a month for straying off the path. I set myself a list of things I'd love to read (still do want to) but ended up delving into a few other titles instead. Only two of this month's four reads were from the reads I planned! That's how I like to do my reading though! I'll aim for better in April.

  1. 'Spectacle' by Megan Rose Gedris. My first read of the month was not originally planned at all. I took a break about halfway through the 600 page long epic 'Children Of Blood & Bone' and wanted something easy and relatively short - a graphic novel being the perfect solution! I loved the characters, magic and inclusion of a circus in this one. Plus, the art style was gorgeous! 4/5 Stars.
  2. 'Children Of Blood & Bone' by Tomi Adeyemi. This is probably my favourite read of the year so far. It was long but so worth it! Great characters, a wonderful setting and everything I could ever want in a fantasy! I'm all about diversity in books too, and this one basically had me weeping. 5/5 Stars.
  3. 'bone' by Yrsa Daley-Ward. I don't read poetry a lot, but when I do, I want to be blown away! And I really liked this collection from Daley-Ward a lot. Captivatingly honest, vulnerable and filled with raw emotion, she proved that you only need twenty words to tell a story and make a person reflect. 4/5 Stars.
  4. 'The Novice' by Taran Matharu. Not a great closing read for the month I'm afraid, it took me a long time to get through this book. The pop culture inspiration that it took was almost overbearingly similar, the world-building was a little vague, the middle section of the book really dipped and I felt that the writing wasn't all that impressive. I've heard book two picks up a lot so will give that a try. If not, I won't continue this series. 2.5/5 Stars.

This month I read two books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total so far nine.

- bone
- The Novice

This month I read zero books for the Finishing The Series Challenge, making my yearly total so far zero.

I read two books for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total so far four.

- Spectacle
- Children Of Blood & Bone

I read four books for the Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, making my yearly total so far nine.

- Spectacle
- Children Of Blood & Bone
- bone
- The Novice

Here is the end result for Pretty Deadly Blog's Bookish Bingo card.

Part Of A Series: The Novice; Taran Matharu
Spring Release: Children Of Blood & Bone; Tomi Adeyemi
Freebie: --
Intersectional Diversity: bone; Yrsa Daley-Ward
Family: Spectacle; Megan Rose Gedris

Book Review: The Novice; Taran Matharu.

It took me a long time to (a) get round to reading this and (b) actually get through it! Some of that is definitely my fault...but some of it is also not. I hate synopsises that take three well known pop culture references and announce that 'THIS BOOK IS '1' MEETS '2' AND '3''. I think it's lazy. I gave this one a chance but it didn't fully meet my expectations...

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Novice
AUTHOR: Taran Matharu
SERIES: Summoner (#1)
Hodder Children's Books
PAGES: 400
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

RATING: 2.5/5 Stars

When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through gruelling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board manoeuvre for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.

What I Liked:
  • Yes, let's start with the good. I thought that this book started fairly well! Not amazingly but definitely enough to make me go 'yeah, I'm liking this'. It had a good setting, characters were likeable and I was intrigued by the lore. I also thought that (after a dip in the middle) the book ended pretty well too. There were definitely some interesting fight scenes that I've not read before, especially between the creatures/imps/demons/whatever they are called. It rounded off nicely with the perfect 'amount' of cliffhanger.
What I Disliked:
  • So, the previously mentioned pop culture references that the synopsis refers to? I can definitely see them. Sometimes, just a little too much. The middle part of this book (my least favourite bit) felt like pretty much a replica of Rowling's characters and vision for the 'Harry Potter' series, except poorly executed. I could see Harry in Fletcher, definitely Malfoy in Tarquin and Isadora and certainly Othello and Sylva made for a convincing Ron & Hermione. The similarities were a little too much at times. Let's not get started on the Pokémon references. The demons themselves were interesting but I couldn't stand that they were referred to as being a particular 'level' or that summoners could go and 'catch' more. And of course, what fantasy world would be complete without the tropey Tolkien lore to make up a vague attempt at world-building.
  • All of the above wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't have been for the mediocre writing. Plenty of novels borrow inspiration from other sources, and some do it better, but this was not the case here. The dialogue between characters felt forced, the language was basic and a little unedited, the descriptions unnecessary and the whole story filled with so much info-dumping. I honestly found myself skimming chunks to get back to the story.
Overall Conclusion:
I really thought that this gave a pretty strong start. It's problem was comparing itself to famous pop culture because with that in mind, the copying was kind of obvious. I would have liked to have seen a little more originality in this series taking only inspiration from those things. There's definitely potential here though, and the end was actually pretty good! If the next book shows off a stronger writing technique and delves into it's own plot a little more then I'll definitely enjoy this series but if it is equally as unimpressive as this one then I won't be continuing.

Monday 26 March 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (19th March - 25th March)...

What a lovely week I've had. I'm definitely settling into my new job well, and though I've been pretty tired as I worked a six day week, it's been nice to not come home quite so stressed out all the time! On Monday, Mat and I went to see a friend of his and enjoy dinner at theirs, which was nice. They have a gorgeous little puppy! Speaking of dogs, my sister's boyfriend also now has a gorgeous new addition to his household and she is beautiful! Her name is Pixi and she's a 4 month old French Bulldog puppy! I can't wait to meet her in a couple of weeks, I'll try and get some pictures.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Reign Of The Fallen' by Sarah Glenn Marsh: Bought on Amazon (23/03/18)
- 'That Inevitable Victorian Thing' by E.K. Johnston: Bought on Amazon (23/03/18)

Sunday 25 March 2018

Book Review: bone; Yrsa Daley-Ward.

Poetry is something I've recently been trying to get into, and this collection cemented the reason a to why for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found Daley-Ward's words gorgeously penned. For those that prefer poetry, particularly modern poetry, this is definitely one to read.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: bone
AUTHOR: Yrsa Daley-Ward
Penguin Books
PAGES: 158
GENRE: Poetry

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Bone. Visceral. Close to. Stark.

The poems in Yrsa Daley-Ward’s collection bone are exactly that: reflections on a particular life honed to their essence—so clear and pared-down, they become universal.

From navigating the oft competing worlds of religion and desire, to balancing society’s expectations with the raw experience of being a woman in the world; from detailing the experiences of growing up as a first generation black British woman, to working through situations of dependence and abuse; from finding solace in the echoing caverns of depression and loss, to exploring the vulnerability and redemption in falling in love, each of the raw and immediate poems in Daley-Ward’s bone resonates to the core of what it means to be human.

What I Liked:
  • Daley-Ward's voice is a force to be reckoned with. Not only was 'bone' the perfect title for this collection (for the reasons stated in the blurb) but every poem, be it twenty words or pages long, felt honest and open. Vulnerable. I honestly really enjoyed this snapshot into Daley-Ward's thoughts and feelings.
  • These poems reflected upon a variety of themes: mental illness, love, loss, family, fear, hurt, abuse and lust. They were the human condition laid bare and her words had a real, raw quality. I love seeing Daley-Ward's representation in the poetic community. She is both a POC and a member of the LGBT+ community and it was so refreshing to see her experiences in this collection.
What I Disliked:
  • Not every poem was relatable to me. And that's fine. I preferred her longer poems (particular favourites being 'it is what it is', 'nose', 'what love isn't' and 'some kind of man'), but I wouldn't say that I hated or even disliked any of them.
Overall Conclusion:
This is my favourite poetry collection that I've read so far. I'll always prefer novels I think, in terms of format, but Daley-Ward proved you don't need 300-odd pages to tell a story. Every one of her poems had a point and even the shortest made me reflect upon something. It will certainly be a collection worth revisiting in the future and I'll certainly be looking out for more of Daley-Ward's works.

Monday 19 March 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (12th March - 18th March)...

This year is definitely going to be a year for weddings (not my own yet, but others certainly) and this week I got to go to one! It was a gorgeous evening, great food, and fantastic music! The bride was an old friend who I used to go to school with, so it was lovely to spend a couple of days in Kent and see people who I haven't seen in ages!

I had a lovely evening out on Sunday too with some of my new work friends and my wonderful fiance! I really am enjoying my new job and I honestly can say that I haven't fully felt that way in a while. It's so nice to be able to relax and have fun while working! It gives me more time to enjoy things outside of work too and I will be making a special effort to read and write more!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The City Of Brass' by S.A. Chakraborty: Approved by Netgalley (18/03/18)
- 'The Queens Of Innis Lear' by Tessa Gratton: Approved by Netgalley (18/03/18)

Sunday 18 March 2018

Book Review: Children Of Blood & Bone; Tomi Adeyemi.

I have been gagging to read this book. Hands down it was my most anticipated read of 2018 and I'm so excited that I got to read it this month right as it came out, and watch it's success! I never had any worries about the hype train with this one!

SOURCE: ARC Sent By Publisher
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Children Of Blood & Bone
AUTHOR: Tomi Adeyemi
SERIES: Legacy of Orïsha (#1)
Macmillan Children's Books
PAGES: 531
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers - and her growing feelings for an enemy.

What I Liked:
  • The story is told from three POVs and I loved all of them. Zélie is the first - a staff wielding maji who is my newest favourite heroine of all time! I loved her attitude and courage, and her heart too. Amari took a little longer to grow on me but she really came into her own by the end of the book and I am really rooting for her continued character development! Lastly, my favourite anti-hero, Inan. He's infuriatingly misguided, but I adored him and he was definitely my favourite POV to read from.
  • I haven't even started on the non POV characters, all of whom were really well crafted! Saran was a brilliant villain, and so complex which is my favourite thing to read. It's surprising how little work is put into the character development of villains most of the time. Obviously I loved Tzain, Zélie's older brother, and other great characters such as Mama Agba, Zu and Röen.
  • Orïsha is beautiful. Adeyemi did a wonderful job of writing such a beautiful setting and I loved how much of it we got to see! In fact, her writing generally was very impressive. I was hooked all the way through this book, and keeping a reader's interest in a book almost 600 pages long is hard people! She never let up on that perfect pacing though and I was fully invested throughout the whole thing!
What I Disliked:
  • There really isn't anything to write here. I'm serious. I adored this book from beginning to end, even though it took me a while to finish it, and I'm left totally blind-sided by that cruel cliffhanger! If I could change anything it would probably be that because it certainly didn't ease me out of the book gently.
Overall Conclusion:
Read this book. There are so many things that I've mentioned above that I loved about it and I haven't even started on the fierce representation for minorities here (there is not a single white character in this book! Finally!) nor the racial and social issues that Adeyemi represents through the friction between maji and non-maji. This read is empowering, magical and will grip you from start to finish!

Monday 12 March 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (5th March - 11th March)...

I got sidetracked from my March TBR again! Obviously I promised I'd dive straight into my list, and while I have been reading 'Children Of Blood & Bone' (and loving it by the way) I also took a small break to read a graphic novel I'd requested last week! I have no regrets and I promise I'll try not to deviate from here on out. My reading has been a little slow though, I've been pretty busy with my new job's training and sorting out a few other aspects of my life. I have also been doing a lot of catching up with some TV shows I needed to get through, finishing Season 4 of The Walking Dead at last (slowly but surely I'm getting there)!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Unclean Spirits' by Chuck Wendig: Approved by Netgalley (05/03/18)
- 'Bone' by Yrsa Daley-Ward: Approved by Netgalley (08/03/18)

Sunday 11 March 2018

Book Review: Spectacle Vol. 1; Megan Rose Gedris.

Graphic novels are becoming more and more of a favourite for me! I've always loved admiring the stunning art and the fact that they tell a story at the same time? Even better. It was the front cover that drew me into this one, but I'm glad I picked it up!

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Spectacle Vol. 1
AUTHOR: Megan Rose Gedris
SERIES: Spectacle (#1)
Oni Press
PAGES: 136
GENRE: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Mystery

RATING: 4/5 Stars

Pragmatic engineer Anna works as a psychic in the Samson Brothers Circus, but she doesn't believe in anything supernatural—until her twin sister Kat is murdered and comes back as a very demanding ghost. Sharing a room with her sister was hard, but now they're sharing a body while trying to identify the killer. With few leads, a troupe full of secretive folk, and strange paranormal occurrences popping up around the circus, solving the case seems near impossible. But the murderer in their midst may be the least of their problems...

What I Liked:
  • Let's start with the visuals, the key to any great graphic novel. Gedris sure is talented! I loved her art style, it was eclectic and unique. Particularly, I adored the randomly inserted page spreads character drawings. I mean, you only have to look at the front cover to get an idea of how pretty everything inside will be! It perfectly set the tone of the book too.
  • The characters were well-rendered and definitely likeable. I really like stories set in a circus because you normally get a mix of personalities and this was no different! My favourites were the vain and seedy (but somehow adorable) ringmaster Jebediah Tetanus, and the shrill, overly-excited snake charmer with a heart of gold, Flora.
What I Disliked:
  • I wasn't overly convinced when I fist started. Gedris has a very particular sense of humour that I wasn't fully on board with in the beginning, and Anna's blunt nature didn't help. As the plot progressed though it became deeply engrossing. I would definitely love to read more of this series!
Overall Conclusion:
All in all, I really enjoyed this read. It took a little time for me to get into it, and a lot of this is introduction to the characters, but I can really see this series going somewhere special! The Deputy Sheriff side-story was a little off from the main plot, but necessary in showcasing Anna's newfound powers, and I can't wait to see more of the overriding story arc feature and find out a little more about the other circus performers! Sister bonds are my favourite thing to read about, so this is perfect.

Monday 5 March 2018

Last Week's Shenanigans (26th February - 4th March)...

This was my official final week at my old workplace and the start of my training for the new! How exciting! Unfortunately, during the week, I did have a little issue thanks to the vast amounts of snow that came to the UK (including London)! I fell and twisted my ankle! It is feeling a lot better now but it did give me a number of issues throughout the week which was a little annoying. I did also have a very long week of working which has not been overly fun. But, I'm excited to start my new job!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Ash Princess' by Laura Sebastian: Approved by Netgalley (28/02/18)
- 'The Poet X' by Elizabeth Acevedo: Approved by Netgalley (28/02/18)
- 'Spectacle Vol. 1' by Megan Rose Gedris: Approved by Netgalley (01/03/18)
- 'I Was Born For This' by Alice Oseman: Approved by Netgalley (03/03/18)
- 'Final Draft' by Riley Redgate: Approved by Netgalley (03/03/18)

I Posted...

February Wrap-Up
Planned Reads for March
Bookish Bingo Sign-Up

Thursday 1 March 2018

Bookish Bingo (March 2018 - May 2018) Sign-Up Post

So...supposedly it's Spring? Here in the UK right now we have a pretty big snow issue and it's so cold but I'm so excited for this anniversary, spring themed card! The Bookish Bingo challenge is, as always, run by Pretty Deadly Blog.

I'm so excited and I can already think of a ton of reads that I've been wanting to get to that fit in these categories! Hopefully, Spring reads will inspire the weather to start changing!

Planned Reads For March.

Right, so, by the end of this month we'll be a quarter of the way through the year? Crikey! I have got some great reads lined up to take my mind off the fact that 2018 is disappearing before my very eyes though!

I am starting my March off with my most anticipated read of the year! That's right, 'Children Of Blood & Bone' by Tomi Adeyemi is the book that has me most excited in 2018 and I'm finally able to pick up my gorgeous-looking ARC and read it! I'm loving it so far by the way, such an engaging Fantasy world.

Yes, yes. I know. 'The Novice' by Taran Matharu is going on hold again. But I have actually started it, and I promise that as soon as I've excitedly devoured 'Children Of Blood & Bone', I'll get straight to it!

I really do want to get to 'The Belles' by Dhonielle Clayton ASAP too. It looks so good! It was on my list for last month too, but we all know how poorly that went. I'm hoping I won't be hit by another reading slump to disrupt everything, but I have a really good feeling about this 2018 release!

This next book is a little older but while I don't normally go for thrillers, the cover and synopsis seem really exciting! 'The Outliers' by Kimberly McCreight has been on my radar for some time and I've had it on monthly TBRs a few times without ever getting to it.

'They Both Die At The End' will be my first ever Adam Silvera read which is quite exciting. I've only ever heard good things regarding his books! It certainly looks like a sweet story of love, friendship and comfort though the title is certainly making me feel that it's all going to end in tears for me!

I loved the Wonder Woman film when it came out last year! I much prefer the MCU to DC's stuff usually, but they really pulled out all the stops for this one. Am I going to read 'Wonder Woman: Warbringer' by Leigh Bardugo as a result? Absolutely! Bardugo is such a fantastic author too, I'm really excited!

Another book that was listed on my February TBR I know, but 'Warrior Witch' by Danielle L. Jensen is the last in the series and I'm determined not to put it off for years like I did book two, because it's such a good series! That cover is definitely my favourite of the three too, it's gorgeous!

This last book looks stunning. I've been wanting to read more fiction inspired by or set in Africa and Asia (hence my reading of 'Children Of Blood & Bone') and this one is set in Taiwan! 'The Astonishing Colour Of After' by Emily X.R. Pan has my hopes set high. I can't wait to immerse myself in a new culture!