Sunday, 15 July 2018

Sunday Post 15th July 2018

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.

Last Week on the Blog:


Books We Got This Week:

Bright We Burn (The Conqueror's Saga, #3)
I'm technically on a book buying ban because we're off to YALC in under two weeks now and I will obviously be spending every penny I have up there! But I am buddy reading the And I Darken series so getting Bright We Burn was just sense!! 

Reading Update:

The Cactus
The Cactus by Sarah Haywood: 4 stars, My review for this will go up next week but I keep rewriting it because the more I think about it the more I love this book. The protagonist is unlike anyone I've read (or known) before and the whole tone is so unique and wonderful. 

Friday, 13 July 2018

Storm Raven by K. Hanson

Storm Raven (Storm Raven, #1)Title: Storm Raven
Author: K. Hanson
Series: Storm Raven #1
Source: Received from author for an honest review
Format: Paperback
Pages: 293
Rating: 4.5/5
Blurb: Captain Nereyda and her first mate, Brynja, lead a band of pirates as they seek out grand adventures and loot vulnerable merchant ships. However, when they attempt an overly ambitious raid, Nereyda and her crew are captured by Commander Erhan of the Imperial navy and separated. Nereyda is pressed into service aboard a ship to patrol the treacherous waters of the Shattered Sea. Meanwhile, Brynja and the rest of the crew are sent to a life of hellish labor deep in an Imperial mining prison camp.
While serving her sentence, Nereyda is shipwrecked on an unknown island. As she explores it, she stumbles into some ancient ruins and finds…something. Whatever it is, it wakes a part of Nereyda that she had not felt before. Something that could help her free the rest of her crew and return to life on the sea, if only she can learn to control it. Unfortunately, Commander Erhan is also on the island. Nereyda must escape him, get off of the island, and rescue her crew before the commander can stop her and before her crew withers away in the oppressive mines.




This might just be the Pirate story I was hoping for. Nereyda was seriously badass and the sections we had of her with her crew were such pirate-y goodness. I was sad that wasn't the whole book, but  we must have a plot and it was a good one. 

The introduction of magic should have felt sudden but it kinda worked within the progression of the story. It helps that Nereyda didn't have instant mastery of her powers, nor did she even really believe in them for a bit there. I half expected, from the blurb, that she would go full Mother-of-Dragons and single handedly storm the prisons. That didn't happen. Instead we got a lot of the things that I love. Ship-wrecked on an island, magical temples, pirates, prison-breaks. And betrayal. 

The sections within the mines themselves were a bit unbearable for me. I'm extremely claustrophobic to the point where some books and films become completely unfinishable for me because they take place in confined spaces. Whilst I struggled with those sections, they were broken up by bits on the sea and in open air battle so that I was able to, metaphorically speaking, take a breath. The characters themselves didn't get that chance however and my heart broke for Nereyda's crew who were left underground whilst she struggled her way back to help them escape. 

Brynja in particular is a difficult character to think about. Because I am so mad at her. She is twisted and hurt by the mines more than anyone and in her efforts to protect them she ends up doing some horrible things. And I understand her reasons but I can't help being mad at her. At the same time, I felt her resentment towards Nereyda who had a much easier time of it when imprisoned on board a ship. It wasn't fair and I felt that injustice properly. 

I genuinely loved this book. More than I expected to. I felt everything that the characters felt. To the point where it became uncomfortable reading because I felt their guilt or their fear. I adored Nereyda and need more of her in my life and I am so desperate to see where their story goes next. And also if Erhan could just disappear that'd be grand. Thanks. 

I'm so glad I read this book, and I am now very much looking forward to finding a chance to read the sequel! Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review! 

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Series Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)The Rose Society (The Young Elites, #2)The Midnight Star (The Young Elites, #3)

Firstly, this is a series I've been looking forward to reading for a long time. I'm a huge fan of anti-heroes and this sounded like it would go one better and give me a villain perspective to root for. It didn't quite deliver as much as I wanted it to - mostly because the third book felt like a let down to the whole series. 

Adelina was such a well written character. She started off damaged and hurting (but yes a little bit brutal) and then over the course of the books she grew so much and it was so much fun to watch. By the end of the first book she has been rejected and betrayed over and over and it finally takes its toll on her, erasing that last bit of "I want to help" that she had in her and forging a self-interest that was extremely compelling to watch. I think I related to this so strongly because I was bullied in school and there were so many times I wanted to turn around and say "screw this" and go full evil queen. I never did (thankfully) and instead took the opposite route but I could have been this. And that's what makes Adelina so compelling. She is a villain we can understand, can get inside of. And that makes her actions so much more disturbing. 

Side characters weren't as exciting. Violetta, Adelina's sister, was downright boring for me. She was very much written to be the opposite of Adelina but this wasn't executed in an effective enough way and the tension between them came out of nowhere and then had very little impact on the story. The only side character I grew truly attached to was Magiano (who was an absolute delight) but he wasn't present in the first book and didn't get nearly enough action in the second and third either - he deserved better dammit. 

For the most part though the first two books were the villain origin story I've always wanted and if it had been left there I would have been happy. But the third book came along to throw a redemptive arc in there and some truly baffling mythology (that unless I'm super dense wasn't in the rest of the series) and it threw the whole experience off for me. By now it's pretty obvious that I love villains. And I really hoped that this would be my one fully unapologetic villain. But instead Marie Lu explained away Adelina's actions by having them be caused by events outside her control. And then she and all her enemies went on a trip to the underworld that, frankly, I didn't fully understand. 

I feel like this was a problem I had with the Legend series as well in that I just do not get on with Lu's endings. I like endings that are one thing or another. Happy or sad. Closed or unclosed. Marie Lu writes endings that are trying to be both happy and sad and closed and unclosed and I just can't wrap my tiny brain around it. I still think this was an excellent series. And I love what the first two books gave me. I'm just going to do my best to forget the third book happened. 

Monday, 9 July 2018

Ann Reviews: Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King, #2)Title: Daughter of the Siren Queen
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King #2
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 352
Rating:
4.5/5
Blurb: Alosa's mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he's under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father's justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

This book was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 and it is now also one of my favourite books that I have read so far this year. I loved almost everything about this book especially the main character Alosa. 

The plot of Daughter of the Siren Queen was amazing, it followed right on from the ending of the previous book Daughter of the Pirate King which I loved a lot. The story developed at a really good pace for me and didn't just rush the ending of the story in the last one hundred pages, it gave hints towards the ending throughout the book so that I could kind of figure out what was going to happen without ruining the tension.

One of my favourite parts of this book is the main character, Alosa, who develops as a character a lot more than I thought she did in Daughter of the Pirate King, as she comes out from the control of her father, she begins to change and adapt a little bit more. She is the kind of character that I read about and wish I could be more like. The other character that I loved a lot was Riden, who is Alosa's love interest in both books and their romance develops more in this book. I love how their relationship changes from hate to love while they still have the joking and mean ways they speak to each other sometimes. I don't personally know if the author is writing another follow on book but I would love another book that focuses more on Alosa and Riden and their relationship developing more and Alosa building her own identity and pirate crew.

I personally believe that this book flowed more easily than some other books and I managed to read it in about 2 days while also studying for exams, it also managed to help me get myself out of my reading slump that I was in when I was reading this book. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend reading this book, especially if you have read and enjoyed the first book; Daughter of the Pirate King. This book is probably my favourite book that I have read so far this year and I know want to read more books that feature female pirates as I loved this character so much.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Sunday Post 8th July 2018

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.


Last Week on the Blog:


Books We Got This Week:

The Favorite Sister My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2) The War in the Dark
The Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll: I know basically nothing about this but sisters combined with reality television makes for a book I HAD to buy. It also looks like a very Halloween read so I might save it! 
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows: I've already read this and was a bit disappointed to be honest. This was probably one of my biggest excitements of the year and I just got nothing much from it. 
The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield: Oh boy am I excited for this. This was a total surprise when I got it in the post from Titan Books and I am so pumped. It's spies and Europe and gorgeousness and I will for sure be reading this very soon. 
Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist, #2) Spinning Silver Beneath the Citadel
Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh: I had a super stressful meeting this week so obviously I went to Waterstones beforehand to relax and found these two beauties. I haven't actually read Flame in the Mist yet but I am excited about this duology so already owned it and was just waiting for this to be released and now I can binge them!!!
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: SIGNED!! One of my favourite authors, in a beautiful hardcover of one of my most anticipated for the year and it's signed. Obviously I bought it immediately. And my Mum who was with me did her best to join in with my excitement even though she was probably thinking more "oh god not more books". Sorry Mum - I love you! 
Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria: Received via Netgalley. I only just went on Netgalley because I only just became able to read kindle books again and I am so excited to have been approved for this one. It looks so dark and intriguing! 


Reading Update:

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1) The Rose Society (The Young Elites, #2) The Midnight Star (The Young Elites, #3)
The Young Elites/The Rose Society/The Midnight Star by Marie Lu: I still haven't fully decided on my ratings for any of these so I'm not going to risk it. Basically, I loved the first two but felt very disappointed by the third. I will have a series review of these going up next week, which I am excited for (maybe by then I will actually have decided how I feel??).
Alex, Approximately My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies, #2) Queen 
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett: 4 stars, I've read and reviewed this (review linked above posted on The Regal Critiques). It was fun and sweet with a lovely romance and a very, very summery plot. 
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows: 2.5 stars, I already mentioned how disappointed I was with this. I buddy read it with my wonderful co-blogger Vera who posted a review for it yesterday here which you should check out! 
Queen by Josephine Boyce: 3.5 stars, This was a super dark, super intriguing novella. I really wish it had been a full length novel because I feel like there was more there to explore but I was so happy with the direction the story went in. 
Rebellion (Rebellion, #1) Independence Realm Spellbook of the Lost and Found
Rebellion by Josephine Boyce: 3 stars, I liked this less than Queen. At first I loved it, the concept and the world creation were brilliant. But it was spoiled slightly by a badly handled sexual assault sub-plot which I found enormously triggering both the event and the way some of the characters reacted afterwards. 
Independence Realm by Kevin J. Bernadt: 3.5 stars, This was a good start to a series. My review is linked above. It lacked polish but the characters and story were entertaining and I definitely want more.
Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley- Doyle: 4 stars, This was so beautifully written and I did enjoy the story a lot. I wish I'd felt more connection at the beginning of the novel but by the end I was fully invested. 

Friday, 6 July 2018

Independence Realm by Kevin J. Bernadt

Independence RealmTitle: Independence Realm
Author: Kevin J. Bernadt
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from the author for an honest review
Pages: 278
Rating: 3.5/5
Blurb: Allets and Ryan, best friends and polar opposites since kindergarten, plan to enjoy one last afternoon together before departing for college, going separate ways for the first time in their lives. The appearance of their vivacious high school classmate, Maria, takes them by surprise, but not as much as a magnificent late-summer storm that changes all of their plans.
Transitioned to an entirely new world, Independence Realm, they become embroiled in a society engulfed with the ageless struggle between liberty and tyranny. Now Allets, Ryan, and Maria find themselves risking their lives to free three heroic Revolutionaries and defeat the tyrannical king and queen.
After receiving guidance from the enigmatic Dr. Richards, Shepherd of the realm and Key Portal Controller, the trio must navigate the dangers of Independence Realm as they courageously face the bloody battles of life and death in the Chamber Wars arena, decipher the perilous puzzles of the Riddling Run, and match wits with the tantalizing Princess of Prose.
Desperate to return home and even more desperate to stay alive, their entire future—and the fate of Independence Realm—hangs in the balance.



I was drawn to Independence Realm because I love these stories where our characters live everyday (slightly boring lives) and then they're suddenly dumped into a whole different world and the weight of that entire world is put on their shoulders. It also went full Wizard of Oz with the whole "you cant get home till you've fixed this world". Plus I love the cover. 

Our main characters, Maria, Ryan and Allets, are introduced rather suddenly. Allets and Ryan were already friends whilst Maria is more of an unknown. I initially disliked Maria, perhaps because I was seeing her through the (ever so slightly jealous) eyes of Allets. But she grew on me. She has an infectious joy and exuberant personality that makes her a delight to read - even if I couldn't super identify with her. A was more easily relatable, at least to me. A bookworm (seriously so many book references here) with a love of learning who kept getting pre-occupied with how this all happened whilst Ryan and Maria were just enjoying it. Which is so very me. Ryan was my least favourite character, probably just because I never felt like I got a handle on him. Allets was relatable and Maria was likable but Ryan, kind of forgettable. But that's fine because you're never going to love every character and being attached to 2 out of the main 3 is a pretty good start point. 

The world itself was super intriguing to me, Independence Realm was a sort of parallel universe where they learned from different periods of Earths development. So you had taverns with old-timey clothing and social mores but also more modern technology, gladiator style rings but then Harry Potter novels. And as a bit of a history lover it was fun to see past and present collide to make a completely unique world. I did wish the world was more fully developed upon, it's a short book and a lot is happening so I understand but I do love world building and I just wanted to know more. 

Plot wise this felt a lot like a video game. And I mean that in a good way. It felt very linear and quest-y which is something I actually love sometimes. Sort of "first go here, do this, then on to the next task". Which made for a nice reading experience that felt a little bit like a series of short stories in an overarching narrative. I also loved the section with riddles because oh boy do I love riddles (plus I felt like a genius when I solved them first).

I definitely think some good editing would be really beneficial. There is definite overuse of metaphors and sometimes two words are used that mean the same thing - but none of this ruined my enjoyment of the story or of the characters. Independence Realm had its faults, but the core world and characters were so much fun and since that's what matters most to me in any story - this was a good read for me and I definitely would love to read more. 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Sunday Post 24th June 2018

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer, it's a chance to post a recap on the past week, show the books we have received and share what we plan for the coming week. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality and the aim is to show our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops or downloaded on to their e-reader.

Last Week:


Books We Got This Week:


All of This Is TrueThe Boneless MerciesFrom Twinkle, with Love
Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven DwarvesSeeing RedWicked and the Wallflower (The Bareknuckle Bastards Book 1)
Most of these came from Unboxings! Seeing Red was sent to me by the publisher and I'm excited enough for it that I might mess up my entire review schedule just to read it now! Wicked and the Wallflower was an auto-buy for me because Sarah MacLean is my second favourite Romance writer (Lisa Kleypas being first of course) and I love her books so much. Of the other four (you can watch the unboxings linked above) I think I am most excited for The Boneless Mercies because it's an ARC from one of my favourite writers (she does creepy so very well) and also Grump just because I'd never heard of it before and I love fairy tale retellings! 


Reading Update:

Kiss the Girl (Soho Loft, #1)
Kiss the Girl by Melissa Brayden: 5 stars, I've been looking for LGBTQ contemporary romance like this for so, so long. This was just like a Sarah Morgan novel. Light and fluffy, with an amazing friendship group, a gorgeous sexy romance, and some personal drama that really makes you fall for the characters. I am currently reading book 2 in the series and badly want to do a series review when I am done!!