Monday, 3 October 2016

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 401 pages
R.R.P: $16.99
Three sisters. One throne. A fight to the death.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katherine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomach ache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of beasts.

But becoming the Queen Criwned isn't solely a matter of Royal birth. Each sister has tonight for it. And it's not just a game of win or lose... It's life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.

My review
Thoughts on the book: This is such a hard review to write. Having just read some of my favourite books of 2016 I picked up Three Dark Crowns with very high expectations in mind. I mean the plot synopsis of the book was amazing and sounded like it would be a fantastic story, alas it didn't live up to my expectations at all. Right off the bat I was really confused as so many new characters were being thrown at me at once and I didn't know who was who. I felt like every page a new character was there and I had to quickly make a little chart to work out who was who and how they were connected. So because this happened I felt like I wasn't really getting into the story at all because I was just so confused about what was happening. There are also no real set chapters or no real set POV's which also makes it really confusing. There are headings that state the place where that part of the story is being set, but within that "chapter" as many as three to four characters POV's are being told and all that really separates them is a paragraph. 

Because of this I struggled for a week to finish this book. I almost gave up about half way through, but upon reading other people's reviews I learnt that most people were in the same position but ended up sticking it out and they were glad that they did. So I did stick it out and I am glad that I did. I think the story picked up around page 290 which was the start of the Beltane Festival. Once the story was set there I felt much more at ease and flew through the rest of the book. The ending was very surprising and I never would have guessed that it would end up that way. But upon reflecting on it I can see how what happened would work (I don't want to give too much away about it). So after finishing Three Dark Crowns it has left me wanting to read the sequel but I just hope that it is a bit better set out.

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Week in Review #2

Books I am reading

Books I am going to read next

Blog posts
I posted my review for Trial by Fire by Josephine Angellini

Books I recieved for Review

That's all for this week. I can't wait to get into some of the books that I have received for review lately. The last couple of months of this year have defiantly produced some amazing books.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Book Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire
Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher: Pan MacMillian
Pages: 373 pages
R.R.P: $16.99

The exhilaratingly seductive new series from the author of the bestselling Starcrossed series

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

My review
Thoughts on the book: If ever there was a first book in a series that will have you captivated from the start, Trial by Fire is it. From the first page we are lead on a mystifying journey through two different worlds, one in a world where everything is as we know it and another the same world but very different, a world where Magic is everywhere. We are introduced to our main character Lily in the world as we know it. Here she is very sick and none knows what is wrong with her. Suddenly after one eventful night where everything she knew is turned on its head after a major betrayal, Lily goes down to the beach to get away. Suddenly she is whisked away to another world where everything is the same but also very different. In this new world there is a girl who is her in everyday but people in this new world call her Lillian and she is the most feared person on the planet. Suddenly Lily basically has to relearn everything she knew and decide if she is the same as the Lillian in this world or if she is a far stronger and better leader for this world.

I am in love with this series. It took me a long time to read this book, well over a week, but that was because I would put the book down because I really wanted to saviour it and saviour it I did. I really can't describe how much I fell in love with the alternative world that the author wrote about and all the different views she made on everyday things. All of the main characters were very strong, independent, loveable and will have you wishing for the strong friendships that Lilly comes to have. Lily herself is by far the strongest character. I don't know many people who would do the things that she does in the book, especially what she does at the end. I don't want to give to much away about Lily though as you really have to read about her yourself. She is defiantly one of my top female characters for the year.

May be a bit of a spoiler here
There is a bit towards the end of the book where Lily mentions that when she was a kid that she had gone to Witch's End (Fat Man's Misery in her world) with Tristan and that after visiting this place was when she started to get sick in her world. I'm wondering whether maybe when she went there she had been swapped with the Lillian from her world and that's why she got sick because she couldn't really cope in this new world. Hmm something to think about and find out with the next two books in the series which I can't wait to read.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, 23 September 2016

Week in Review #1

I have thought about doing a weekly post like this for awhile. I know I have tried other ones like this but I'm hoping this one will stick. Here I will post the book that I am currently reading, blog posts that I have made that week, any news and books that I have recieved.

Currently reading

What I'm going to read next

Blog posts made this week
I have been very busy this week trying to catch up on all of my reviews that I have been behind in due to a family emergency.

Caramel Hearts review

Q&A with E.R. Murray

Tell us Something True Review

Nerve review

Books I recieved for Review

And that's it for this week

Book Review: Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

Author: Jeanne Ryan
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 294 pages
R.R.P: $19.99
Are you playing the game, or is the game playing you?

Vee doesn't know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an online game of high-stakes dares. But whoever's behing the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her lust-worthy prizes and a super hot partner.

With Ian on her team, it's easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another.

At first it's thrilling, as the manipulative audience, or 'Watchers', cheer them on to riskier challenges. But things quickly get out of hand.

Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare? If will they lose NERVE?

My review
Thoughts on the book: It seems like every book I read at the moment is one that I am adding to my favourite reads for 2016, Nerve being no exception. From the Prologue I was intruiged and wanted to know how the girl had been put into that position and so I was then taken on the ride of my life with the main character Vee. Vee, who has always been the girl in the background, decides that she is finally going to take a chance to be noticed and signs up to play the new online game, NERVE, where people are given dares that they have to complete to earn prizes. Vee like everyone else believes the game I scripted and that people aren't really put into those positions, but the further she gets in the rounds the harder and the more dangerous the dares become and no one is coming to help her. But Vee is now certainly not the girl in the background anymore.

I found the idea of NERVE very interesting and was kept on the edge of my seat throughout the book and while the dares were being played out. All I could think of was imagine if this was real and people were really doing this and then I thought well in a way they are. I mean it's not exactly like  the NERVE game in the book but isn't Survivor and The Amazing Race kind of like this. People know what they signed up for to an extent but then there are always challenges along they way that they weren't expecting and ones that they may even fear. Just something to think about.

There were a few things that bugged me. First I was surprised with how quickly Vee got over her crush on Matthew, as the bulk of the book is based in one nights timepsan it is a little hard to believe that in basically two hours, Vee is over Matthew and head over heals in love with Ian, Ian being someone she just met and who she has no history on whatsoever. Second the ending, it was left wide open so we are left guessing what may occur.i would have loved this to have been the first book of a series as I think it could have been as big as the Hunger Games if it continued. But do t just listen to me go out and by the book yourself and go along on the NERVE ride.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Book Review: Tell us Something True by Dan Reinhardt

Tell Us Something True
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Publisher: Oneworld
Pages: 202 pages
R.R.P: $16.99

Seventeen year old River doesn't know what to do with himself when Penny, the girl he adores, dumps him.mhe lives in LA, where nobody walks anywhere, and Penny was his ride; he never bothered getting a licence. He's stuck. He's desperate. He's lonely.

One afternoon he does the unthinkable- he starts walking, and stumbles on a support group for teens with addictions. He fakes his way into the meetings and begins to connect either the other kids, and when he finds himself falling for one of the girls in the group a delightful comedy of errors ensuses. River wants to tell the truth, but he can't stop lying, and his tangle of deception ,as unravel before he learns how to handle the most potent drug of all: true love.

My review
Thoughts on the book: Well I just added another book to my 2016 favourites. This time it is the fabulous Tell us Something True by Dana Reinhardt. Though it is a rather short book, 202 pages which you absolutely fly through, so much happens in that short amount of time which is a real tribute to the author and her fabulous writing. There is also a hidden twist that I didn't see coming at all. It literally hit me in the face when it was revealed and then I sat back and found that it was laid out right in front of me the whole time and I just never put two and two together. Dana Reindhart makes the short 202 pages feel like a 400/500 page book with the amazing detail that goes into the storyline and our main character River. From the first couple of paragraphs you know your in for a fantastic ride.

Up until the afternoon Penny Brockaway dumped me in the middle of Echo Park Lake, I didn't believe in fate.
Before you start conjuring visions of me in a zippered body bag sinking to the bottom of that filthy water, I mean to say she dumped me, as in broke up with me, as in she took my heart and stomped on it while wearing a pair of those clunky boots she liked, and then she got behind the wheel of her SUV and she drove over it before picking up what flattened pieces were left and tossing them in the compost bin.

I think I also found one of my favourite male characters for 2016 too, River. I  picture him to be a bit like Sheldon off the Big Bang Theory. He is just a very likeable character who has no clue about anything, such as since being with Penny he basically gave up his perfectly normal life and did whatever she wanted, he even stopped hanging around his friends who he had been friends with for years. So when they finally break up he really has no idea how to function without her, River believes he can't live without her and if Penny just realised how much he loved her then she would want him back. Slowly, overtime he realises just how big of a jerk he had been and vows to turn his life around.

So if you are looking for your next favourite YA book look no further than Tell us Somethjng True. 

Rating: 5/5

Q&A with author of Caramel Hearts, E.R. Murray

I was lucky enough to be contacted by a representative from Bloomsbury who asked if I would like to review Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray and also interview her as well. Like all bloggers I jumped at the chance. I couldn't believe when the author actually contacted me herself and I dealt with her personally. It was a great honour to read her book and interview her. E.R Murray was very easy to communicate with and I hope there will be more opportunities to help her with future books.

What inspired you to write Caramel Hearts?

Timing had a part to play; I wrote Caramel Hearts when my first book, The Book of Learning – Nine Lives Trilogy 1 went on submission to publishers; that book is an urban fantasy set in Ireland and I wanted to write something different after spending two years with those characters. 

I also wanted to look at the effects of addiction on a family unit, and explore a protagonist from a poor background – lower classes are still under-represented in young adult fiction and its something I’m interested in because I know what it’s like to grow up in a society that has little or no expectation of youI also know what it’s like to grow up in a family affected by addiction; but the biographical element is in the emotions, rather than the characters or events – they’re completely fictional.

There was also a timely and unexpected invite from the National Library of Ireland; they spotted on twitter that I was going to write something involving a handwritten cookbook and they had some incredible 16th century examples to show me. The recipes had ingredients like ‘frosted plums picked by moonlight’ and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. They showed me how powerful the recipes in my own book could be – and it all came together from there. 

Liv is an amazing character and goes through some tough battles in the book. Is she based around someone you know?

What happens to me is this: characters start bugging me (usually at really inconvenient times, like when I’m working on another book) and eventually I have to listen. I find out their fears, their challenges, their desires and that’s my starting point. I live in their shoes and they take on a life of their own. I figure out what they need and how they’ll get it – this is how the story forms. Once I know these details, I flesh the characters out through experience and research and people watching, so my characters always contain an amalgam of other people’s traits, but they’re never actually based on a person

I love the recipes that you have included in the story and the way they are included. Are these your own personal recipes?

Yes, I created all the recipes. I researched recipes that would be localized and also available at the time Liv’s mum would have been baking, and then I read a variety of recipes and created my own versions. I baked them and – seeing as I don’t have much of a sweet tooth – I tested them on lots of willing victims. Then I altered the recipe until people felt it was just right. The recipes had to fit the story and the mood, as well as the emotions of the characters. It took a long time to get the recipes in their correct place, as some would fit in multiple spots; it was all about where they had the most impact, where they fused best with the story. 

Caramel Hearts has some very relevant issues that many teens face today. What was the hardest part about writing these issues into Caramel Hearts?

I guess the hardest bit was drawing on memories that I didn’t want to revisit. But I also found researching bullying today painful; the fact that it’s just as prevalent and just as vicious as when I was aschool, makes me really sad. There are so many anti-bullying campaigns, but it’s still such a huge issue. Where are we going wrong?

What authors inspire you now and when you were younger?

I find other authors a constant source of inspiration. Every time I read a book that I don’t want to put down, or come across a character that I can’t forget, or a landscape I don’t want to leave, something fires up inside me that makes me want to write more, better, with more passion. I don’t know where my love of reading came from – it wasn’t typical at home – but I can’t remember a time when books didn’t matter to me. 

I’ve always felt this way so it’s difficult to name particular authors but Stephen King, George Orwell and Charles Dickens really spoke to me as a teen. Other writers I’ve grown to really admire over the years include Cormac McCarthy, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood, Neil GaimanHaruki Murakami, and David Mitchell – they’re all so versatile and brilliant.

When it comes to children’s and young adult authors, Phillip Pullman made a huge impression on me, as did JK Rowling and Melvin Burgess, and right now, I really admire the impact that Louise O’Neill’s books are having on Irish society. But the author that has really made me sit up and think, that has made me see how boundaries can be pushed and makes me aspire to improve, is Jon Walter. 

What is your favourite book?

That’s like asking me to choose a favourite puppy! Wuthering Heights is the book I’ve read the most times in my life – I love the multiple narrators, the use of setting, the passion and supernatural elements. American Gods by Neil Gaiman is the book I wish I’d written, and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami are two books I frequently revisit. My Name’s Not Friday by Jon Walter (published 2015) is one of the best children’s books ever written – if you haven’t already, go get a copyMy favourite fiction published so far in 2016 are Red Dirt by E. M. Reapy (that’s set in Australia), The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerny (winner of the Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction) and Nothing Tastes as Goodby Claire Hennessy.