I'd heard a lot of pre-publication buzz about 'An Ember in the Ashes' which piqued my interest enough to make me bump this title up to the top of my 'I'd heard a lot of pre-publication buzz about 'An Ember in the Ashes' which piqued my interest enough to make me bump this title up to the top of my 'must read' list. It sounded like everything I look for in a book and I'd already read a lot of glowing reviews. This was a book, therefore, that I was expecting to grab me by the scruff of my neck and not let go. It didn't quite do that however and turned out to be more of a slow burner. A book which started dramatically in the first few chapters, and then simmered away until it exploded into technicolour. To be honest, I'm not really sure why I wasn't instantly hooked but I think perhaps the amount of world-building at the start, slowed down the overall pace of the story and meant that I was concentrating so hard on understanding all the details of the characters' world that I failed to sit back and enjoy the bigger picture. That is until suddenly everything clicked into place and I was forcibly sucked into the story.
Readers are going to love the two main characters, Elias and Laia. They have had two very different upbringings and live in opposing worlds but they are unwittingly brought together by a dangerous chain of events. Laia is desperate to help her brother and Elias longs to scape his life at Blackcliff - a life of brutality, punishment and death. The narrative perspective alternates between the two of them. I particularly enjoyed reading Elias's side of the story because I was fascinated by Blackcliff and couldn't wait to find out more about it.
I absolutely adored Elias's friendship with Helene and I won't lie - I was secretly hoping that there might be more than just friendship between them. There are a lot of ups and downs for the two best friends to face and believe me, you will never guess the direction in which Sabaa Tahir takes their relationship. I think it adds an incredibly interesting dynamic to the story.
Sabaa Tahir really takes you deep into the world that these characters inhabit. Her writing is wonderfully rich and captivating and she certainly knows how to leave readers wanting more!
As I was reading this book, I could easily see it adapting well to the big screen. I'm already casting actors in my head for all the main parts.
After a slightly shaky start, this turned out to be a brilliant read which left me hanging on a thread at the end. I'm dying for the sequel and I can't wait to discover what trials lie in wait for Elias and Laia next. ...more
Described as "The Hunger Games meets The Princess Diaries" if ever a tagline is going to make me want to read a book, that is it! And what an unusualDescribed as "The Hunger Games meets The Princess Diaries" if ever a tagline is going to make me want to read a book, that is it! And what an unusual book, 'The Potion Diaries' by Amy Alward turned out to be. Unusual in a good way but not at all what I was expecting. It leant much more heavily towards the fantasy genre but was unlike anything else I've read before.
The book combines a modern setting with one where magic is still prevalent. This took a bit of getting used to because it's not every day that you experience magic being talked about in such a matter of fact way. The main character Samantha Kemi has the ability to mix potions. Her talent as an alchemist is second to none and is needed when her family are summoned to take part in an ancient quest to save the Princess from a potion gone awry. Fantasy, magical adventures and drama aplenty enthuse, as Sam joins the hunt to find all the ingredients for an anti-dote.
I have to admit that I wasn't immediately hooked by the story, although I loved the premise. I didn't really get engrossed in it properly until at least six or seven chapters in, so stick with it if it is the same for you because it's definitely worth it. The hunt itself was intriguing and trust me, you wouldn't even begin to be able to predict what was going to happen. It's best to just strap in and enjoy the ride.
I loved the character of Sam. She is brave, resourceful and talented but also incredibly modest. She wants to win the quest so that she can help provide for her family but along the way she learns a lot about her own abilities and talents. Handsome Zain is one of her rival competitors. Dark black hair and blue eyes is always a killer combination, so I was drawn to Zain even though I didn't know if he could be trusted. There are romantic sparks between the two of them, although the romance angle takes more of a backseat to the quest itself, so more romance and kissing next time please!
The book's recipe is to take a dash of humour and a sprinkle of romance. Stir it up with adventure, excitement and danger and you have 'The Potion Diaries'. ...more
'The Novice' is the first book in the Summoner series and was a Wattpad sensation before it hit the shelves in print. Taran Matharu's debut takes the'The Novice' is the first book in the Summoner series and was a Wattpad sensation before it hit the shelves in print. Taran Matharu's debut takes the reader on a fantastical journey in a world unlike anything you've seen before. The characters are placed in dangerous life or death situations as the horror of war looms ever on the horizon.
The story is about an orphan boy called Fletcher who discovers that he can summon demons. He ends up going to train at the Vocans Academy where he prepares for his role in the fight to defeat the orcs in battle. A large portion of the book follows Fletcher as he practices his new-found skills with demon Ignatius. When the two are working in sync, they have the ability to do incredible things. The demons reminded me a little of those in Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy, as they become in tune with their owners' emotions. I've also heard them compared to Pokémon and actually they did remind me of this, because each demon has it's own animal characteristics and performs to a different level.
I really enjoyed watching the students train in the art of summoning. This makes up the biggest part of the story and delves in-depth into the training process. It was a bit drawn out and I felt like it slowed the pace of the plot down a little but at the same time it helped to draw me into Fletcher's world and gave me a better understanding of the demons themselves.
There's a fantastic and diverse range of characters in the book, including Othello the dwarf and Sylva the elf. It was fun getting to know them all. Fletcher's friends help to teach the value of friendship and the importance of making bonds which aren't based on class divides.
'The Novice' was a brilliant fantasy read where adventure always seems to be waiting on the horizon. It was a really promising start to the series and if the second book is equally, if not more exciting, then I'll be very happy. ...more
I've been really looking forward to seeing how James Treadwell's fantasy series will be concluded. This is a trilogy which I feel has somewhat flown uI've been really looking forward to seeing how James Treadwell's fantasy series will be concluded. This is a trilogy which I feel has somewhat flown under the radar with very little pre-publicity buzz. It is however one which has captivated me, without me being able to put my finger on exactly what it is about the story that has appealed to me so much.
The author, James Treadwell, has stated that his concept for the series was to imagine what would happen in the modern world if magic was to suddenly return. How would it affect or change society and what would it mean for certain individuals? I think the overall sense of the magical and the fantastical is carried along throughout the book, at the same time as there being a gritty realism and an atmosphere of dark danger to the story.
'Arcadia' centres around a young boy called Rory who lives on a tiny island with his mother and a community of other women. As the only boy there, he is cossetted by the women but at ten years of age he can be rebellious and finds himself becoming entangled with a group of mysterious strangers who are set to change his life forever. I loved the character of Rory and I enjoyed seeing events unfold around him.
Although I didn't always understand the subtext to some of the things that happened in the book, I honestly didn't feel that this mattered at all. I just loved the wild, elemental feel of the story and the sense that something epic was unfolding on the page.
This is the third and final book in the series but I almost think that you could read it as a standalone novel. It's not until the last few chapters that all the threads start to come together and previous characters return for the conclusion. Although I've read the whole series, it's been quite a while since I finished the first two books and I was a little hazy on some of the events that had taken place. Gradually I began to recollect things that had happened but don't let it put you off if this is the first book by James Treadwell that you're picking up. I'm sure you will enjoy it anyway!
I highly recommend this to fantasy fans who are looking for that next great read. ...more
'The Sin Eater's Daughter' is a glorious fantasy drama that will enchant you and leave you wanting more. This fabulous debut from UK author Melinda Sa'The Sin Eater's Daughter' is a glorious fantasy drama that will enchant you and leave you wanting more. This fabulous debut from UK author Melinda Salisbury, starts strongly and goes from strength to strength as the story builds up the tension between the characters and the political intrigue played out behind the scenes of the Royal Court.
Twylla, the main character, is blessed in the eyes of the Gods. However, she feels more cursed than blessed, with a deadly touch that can kill a man or woman. Used by the Queen as a Royal assassin, she has almost become resigned to her life, until she meets Lief, who is tasked with guarding her safety. He opens her eyes to the truths that she cannot or does not want to see.
There are so many things to love about this book. I enjoyed the first person narrative immensely. Twylla is an extremely likeable character who is put in an unenviable position. Her narrative felt like she was talking directly to me and I empathised with many of the difficult choices she has to make. She undergoes quite a personal transformation and by the end of the story she is a changed person.
Yes, there is a love triangle of sorts but it's brilliantly written and left me constantly changing my mind about who I wanted Twylla to choose. I wasn't expecting to like both male leads as much as I did, even though they both have secrets to hide.
The ending was totally unexpected and made me rethink my thoughts about some of the characters. I didn't see it coming at all which is a tribute to Melinda Salisbury's captivating and amazing storytelling skills.
There's only one thing I want to know now. Is there going to be a sequel and if so, when can I get my hands on it! ...more
'Shadow of the Wolf' is an astounding new interpretation of the traditional tale of Robin Hood by debut author Tim Hall. I was very excited to read th'Shadow of the Wolf' is an astounding new interpretation of the traditional tale of Robin Hood by debut author Tim Hall. I was very excited to read this book because I'm a huge fan of the original story and I couldn't wait to see which direction Hall was going to take with the plot and characters.
The story follows a young Robin who at the beginning of the book finds that his family have abandoned him. Left to survive on his own, he uses his independence as a shield to protect himself against further hurt. His solitary life begins to change however when he meets Marian in the forest and discovers his true soulmate. The two seem destined to be together but when Marian is taken from him, he determines to do whatever it takes to get her back.
My favourite part of the story was the very beginning when Robin and Marian are young and roaming free together. They are living an idyllic life which they both know won't last forever but which they cherish for the simple fact that they are with each other. They embrace the beauty of the forest which is all around them and revel in having nobody to answer to but themselves. Although deep down they realise they are playing at living a fantasy, nothing else matters to them except for being together.
Throw out all of your preconceptions about Robin and Marian because these two characters are unlike anything you could have anticipated. Marian is not the helpless heroine you may have been used to seeing her as. She is headstrong, fiery, determined, intelligent and above all resilient. She endures terrible things in the book but I had absolute faith in her that she would always manage see things through. Although there were times when I found her less that likeable, mainly due to her spiky temperament, I never stopped admiring her strength and endurance. Robin too has to face unspeakable horrors and is far from the merry figure with his bow and arrow that we are used to seeing. I felt great pity for him throughout the book and I kept desperately hoping for something good to happen to him.
Some other familiar faces crop up in the story with Will Scarlett, Much, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Bors all making appearances. It was great to see Tim Hall interweaving all of these secondary characters, although again don't expect them to act like you would have imagined. The Forest too is like a character in itself. It is dangerous and mysterious and conceals many secrets which slowly begin to unravel.
'Shadow of the Wolf' is an unusual combination of history and fantasy which took a little bit of getting used to. The plot took an unusual and unexpected turn about half-way through which turned everything on it's head and made me think about the book in a totally different way. It is incredibly rich in detail, wonderfully written and so unique that this truly is a Robin Hood tale unlike anything you could ever have dreamt of. I was still left with so many questions at the end however, that I am looking forward immensely to the next instalment in the series. ...more
This is the second book I've read by Frances Hardinge, after 'A Face Like Glass' which I adored. Although I didn't enjoy this one quite as much, thereThis is the second book I've read by Frances Hardinge, after 'A Face Like Glass' which I adored. Although I didn't enjoy this one quite as much, there is no doubt that Hardinge really knows how to craft a story which immerses you completely within it's pages and which whisks you away from reality.
'Cuckoo Song' is a creepy fantasy about Triss, who's not Triss. She wakes up after an accident with strange longings and cravings. She knows who she is but at the same time she doesn't. She recognises her mother, father and younger sister Pen, but the latter seems to look at her with true hatred and Triss can't understand why nothing feels quite as it should. As the story progresses, it twists and turns deeper into the fantasy realm where the truth about what really happened to Triss is stranger than anything I could have ever imagined.
Family is an important theme in the book. After the death of their son during the war, Triss's mother and father want to keep her at home, safe with them, but their behaviour is suffocating. Triss can't grow up while they are constantly fussing over her and trying to stop her from going to school or having any friends. Their attention is poisonous without them even realising it. The relationship between Triss and her sister Pen was one of my favourite things about the book. It starts off fractured and almost broken but things change for both of them and they begin to gain a better understanding of one another.
The story is a delicious blend of magic and fantasy which will entrance readers as they follow Triss on a journey of self-discovery and reconciliation. Although not my favourite of Hardinge's books, I was still in awe of the unique and original plot which kept me glued to the pages.
I'd heard so much about this book and read so many positive reviews that I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. When it arrived I'll admit that II'd heard so much about this book and read so many positive reviews that I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. When it arrived I'll admit that I spent a good long while just marvelling over the absolutely beautiful cover art before I even cracked it open. It's so pretty and looks so nice on my bookshelves!
The story itself is a blend of fantasy and historical fiction. The main character Kestral, is the daughter of a general. At the beginning of the book she bids successfully on a slave for her father's household. The winner's curse is the hugely inflated price that she pays for him. Arin, the new slave, will change everything. I really wasn't too sure about Kestral at the start. She came across as quite snobby and superior but as her personality began to shine through, I liked her more and more and I began to understand her motives and reasons.
There is quite a lot in the first half of the book about the history of the country. It focuses on the divide between the ruling Valorians and the suppressed Herrani, who they conquered and turned into slaves. This is quite detailed and complex and I had to really concentrate to make sure that I understood everything but it added such a rich layer to the story and helped when trying to appreciate the different standpoints of many of the characters.
Although I found the beginning of 'The Winner's Curse' a little slow at times, as the plot progressed I became more and more absorbed. I thought the scenes between Kestral and Arin were wonderfully written and I enjoyed the push-pull nature of their relationship, as the dynamics gradually start to shift. The ending left me on tenterhooks and desperate to know what would happen next.
This is the first book in a trilogy which I will definitely be sticking with. I'm eager for the story to continue and will be rushing out to get my hands on a copy when the sequel is published. ...more
Tribute’ was a really unusual read but rest assured, it was unusual in a good way. Steeped in fantasy, Ellen Renner has created a fascinating fantasyTribute’ was a really unusual read but rest assured, it was unusual in a good way. Steeped in fantasy, Ellen Renner has created a fascinating fantasy world unlike anything else I’ve come across before. It took me a little while to become accustomed to some of the words and phrases used in the book but there’s a useful glossary in the back pages which definitely helped. About a third of the way through it all started to click and come together for me and that’s when the story really started to take off.
The central character, Zara, is a Mage. She is part of a society of people who have magic and can control the elements through telekinesis. They also have the ability to will their mind into the bodies of animals and birds which they can then seize control of. Zara’s father is one of the most powerful Mage’s alive but she has never forgiven him for taking away one of the few people she’s ever loved. In spying for the Knowledge Seekers she hopes to right the wrongs done against the non-magical society, who have been enslaved and are at the will of the Mage population.
I instantly liked Zara as soon as she was introduced. She thinks differently about things to everyone else and she’s willing to stand up and fight for what she believes in. She really grew in character throughout the book and I admired her for many of the tough decisions she has to make.
I found all the different factions in the book absolutely fascinating. As well as those who have magic, there are the rebel Knowledge Seekers and the Makers who live on the other side of the Wall. They are fighting a continual war against the Mages and are determined to protect their community whatever the cost.
Ellen Renner’s writing made the characters and their world really come alive. I was immersed in the story and on tenterhooks for most of the last part of the book. ‘Tribute’ is a brilliant start to the series which is set to continue in August 2014 with ‘Outcaste’. ...more
I stumbled across ‘Sea of Shadows’ in my local bookshop without even realising that Kelley Armstrong had a new book out. It sounded intriguing and I tI stumbled across ‘Sea of Shadows’ in my local bookshop without even realising that Kelley Armstrong had a new book out. It sounded intriguing and I thought the cover looked pretty striking so I picked it up. I’ve enjoyed some of Armstrong’s books in the past but not all of them, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading this. What I got was an exciting, action-packed fantasy adventure which started slow but then really picked-up and threw everything at the reader. Strangely enough it reminded me a little bit of ‘Blood Red Road’ by Moira Young, although that may just have been because of the giant worms!
At the heart of the story are twin sisters Moria and Ashyn. They are the Seeker and Keeper of Edgewood, charged with keeping the village safe from the angry souls of the dead that reside in the forest. They have been trained from birth to fulfil their roles and each have an immortal creature by their side: a wildcat and a hound. These animals are bonded to them and are like an extension of their own selves. When things start to go wrong with the ritual of quietening the spirits, a terrible evil falls upon their village, leading Moria and Ashyn to embark on a dangerous journey.
The journey itself takes up the majority of the book but I found it incredibly exciting because it was fraught with danger at every turn. There are a whole array of scary creatures which make appearances in the story and there are some seriously creepy moments which had me jumping out of my seat. I think Kelley Armstrong does a great job of keeping readers on their toes with this part of the plot. The sisters become separated on their journey but they are each accompanied by a potential love interest (although this isn’t necessarily how it starts out). Personally, I really liked Gavril and I thought that the bond which grows between him and Moria was much more real than the lacklustre sparks between Ashyn and Ronan.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed ‘Sea of Shadows’ and although it got off to a slow start it was well worth sticking with because it kept getting better and better and the second-half of the book in particular was fantastic. I sometimes find that I can get a little lost with fantasy books but I thought that everything was explained extremely well and the world building was brilliant. I’m now dying for the next instalment of this trilogy and I can’t wait to see what twists and turns are going to be thrown into book two. This is probably my favourite Kelley Armstrong title so far!...more
'Briar Rose' is a southern retelling of the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. It's about a young girl who on her sixteenth birthday is doomed by a curse'Briar Rose' is a southern retelling of the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. It's about a young girl who on her sixteenth birthday is doomed by a curse which threatens to rob her of everything she holds dear unless she can find a way to break it.
I thought I was going to love this book. I'm a massive fan of Jana Oliver's previous series The Demon Trapper's Daughter and I couldn't wait to read this as soon as I first heard about it. The plot sounded brilliant, I love fairy tale retellings and I fell in awe of the book cover but I'm disappointed to say that the actual story I really struggled with. I normally finish books quite quickly but this one took me over a week to read, a sign that I just wasn't hooked by the actual telling of the tale.
It's quite an unconventional retelling and actually bared very little resemblance to the traditional version of Sleeping Beauty. The blurb of the book therefore seemed to be slightly misleading. I wouldn't necessarily have minded this if the story had been amazing but for the most part I often found it strange and confusing, particularly when Briar enters the dream world. Nothing here is familiar and everything seems foreign and dangerous.
I thought that the romance in the story would perhaps have redeemed things for me but unfortunately I wasn't won over either by the bond between Briar and her childhood friend Joshua. As individual characters they were okay but together I didn't feel the spark between them. I actually preferred the scenes between Briar's best friend Reena who tries to help her and a local boy called Pat who also finds himself pulled into the dream world.
I'm sad to say that this book just wasn't for me although I kept on hoping until the very end that something would happen to turn it around for me. Regardless of this, I'm still a huge fan of Oliver's work and I will certainly be reading more by her in the future. ...more
As a Christmas treat to myself, I managed to avoid reading this a few months ago when it was first published and I saved it to read when I was on my CAs a Christmas treat to myself, I managed to avoid reading this a few months ago when it was first published and I saved it to read when I was on my Christmas break. To do that, I had to bury it under a pile of other books so that I wouldn't be tempted to delve into it immediately. Boy, was that hard! This meant that I could sit reading it for as long as I liked without any interruptions. And what a stellar book it was! This is shaping up to be one of my favourite YA series of all time.
The story got off to a slow start but not in a bad way. It gave me a chance to remember all the things that had happened in 'Crown of Fire' and to become reacquainted with lots of familiar and well loved faces. Although it was very strange not to see Celaena, Dorian and Chaol all together and I did really miss that, it was also interesting to see them forging their own paths and having to stand alone. All of them have their own demons to face before they can get a happy ending.
I really, really missed the romance between Celaena and Chaol and I'm still hopeful that they will get back on track in the next book. I'm firmly of the opinion that they make each other a better person and that their best qualities definitely compliment each other. All the best romances have to overcome adversity first!
Celaena is an incredible hero. She is self-less, determined, brave and unbroken and I've enjoyed joining her on every step of her journey towards redemption and self-discovery. There are lots of new sides to her character in this book and I like the fact that there are so many different aspects of her personality still to explore.
As well as all my favourites there were some great new characters added to the story. Rowan was amazing and I loved learning all about him but I also enjoyed seeing Sorscha the healer and Manon the witch. Be prepared for plenty of surprises when it comes to these guys.
This is the kind of book that you can get lost in and wish that you'll never have to find your way out of again. Brilliantly written, Sarah J Maas has a lifelong fan in me (and I'm sure other readers too!) ...more
This is the fifth book in the fantastic Wereworld series by Curtis Jobling and is the penultimate title. I don't know what I'm going to do when it's aThis is the fifth book in the fantastic Wereworld series by Curtis Jobling and is the penultimate title. I don't know what I'm going to do when it's all over because I've loved it so much. It's going to leave a big void in my reading calendar as I always look forward to each new instalment being published.
The story picks up with Drew still fighting for Lyssia's freedom while his allies are scattered and his enemies closing in. The action packed storyline grabbed me by the throat from the opening chapter and never let go the whole way through. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes in the book which took place at sea. I'm also a fan of Vega the Sharklord and I thought the twist involving him and Casper was perfectly executed. I certainly didn't guess the truth about them both.
Whitley has gradually become one of my favourite characters. She has really grown and matured and is now quite a force to contend with. There is a romantic undercurrent between her and Drew and I enjoyed the fact that Drew may be a Werelord but he's still pretty clueless sometimes when it comes to the opposite sex.
I'm looking forward to seeing Trent and Drew finally reunited. It will be interesting to see what kind of reunion the two brothers have, particularly now that Trent has grown much closer to Gretchen.
I've been Team Hector from the word go and have always believed that he will finally be redeemed. He comes tantalisingly close to this but Jobling still leaves us hanging about whether or not Hector can ever truly make amends for his actions. I'm hoping so because I always think back to the type of person he was at the start and those qualities must still be buried deep inside of him.
I've been a fan of this series from the very beginning and I'm so attached to all the characters and the world that Curtis Jobling has created. He literally never takes his foot off the gas with some superb storytelling! I'm excited to find out how it's all going to end in 'War of the Werelords' which is being published in October 2013 but I'll also be extremely sad to wave goodbye to the world of the Seven Realms. ...more
I want to start this review by admitting that I'd not heard of this book prior to receiving a copy; a fact which amazes me because I've since discoverI want to start this review by admitting that I'd not heard of this book prior to receiving a copy; a fact which amazes me because I've since discovered that 'Angelfall' is an internet phenomenon and garnered more reviews that most other books. If you're as in the dark as I was, then I want to plead with you to read it now!
I love angel books but sometimes find them slightly formulaic because it's a subject which so many authors have written about. I imagine it must be hard to find a fresh approach. I thought there was very little new ground to explore but I was wrong. Wholeheartedly and completely wrong. Susan Ee has taken a subject which I'm fascinated with and intrigued me even more. She's covered new ground, developed a new angle for the genre and produced a five star, spellbinding read.
The premise of the story is that angels have attacked humanity and people are now living in fear for their lives. Penryn is trying to protect her mother and younger sister Paige when they are attacked and Paige is taken. The plot focuses on Penryn's struggle to save her sibling, whilst at the same time, trying to survive in a hostile world.
Penryn is a fantastic character. She's desperate to get her sister back and is willing to do anything to achieve that. She places herself in dangerous situations but never loses her head and never loses sight of her goal. She has to face some terrible sights in the book but she is single-minded and won't back down whatever the personal cost.
I found myself unconsciously rooting for Penryn and Raffe, the wingless angel, before even really realising how much I liked them together. Although she starts off only helping him to get him to lead her to the other angels, they develop a very strong bond throughout the book. I'm looking forward to seeing this grow further in the sequel to 'Angelfall'.
There are a couple of gruesome bits in the story which I could probably have done without, but these do reinforce the horror of the world which they now inhabit and which they have to try to stay alive in.
This was a stunning, spellbinding story which absolutely captivated me. It's hard to list all the things I loved about it but it pulled at my heartstrings and captured my imagination. Please do read it because you won't regret it! ...more