Currently Reading

Currently reading: Simon VS the Homo-Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Crown of Feathers Blog Tour


To celebrate the UK publication of Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto, I, along with loads of other great bloggers, was invited by Ink Road Books to take part in this fantastic blog tour. From reviews, to Q&A's and extracts, this tour has everything to whet your appetite for this awesome book! Today, it's my turn and I am excited to share with you my review of the book! Let's begin!

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Now, I have been obsessed with phoenixes for YEARS! Absolutely years. I've always been fascinated and intrigued. I even have a phoenix tattoo. I love them. So imagine my excitement one day when I was scrolling through GoodReads searching for something new to add to the TBR (one of the 2019 YA lists, I believe) and this cover pops up. It's fiery, atmospheric, striking... I was obsessed. I didn't even read the blurb, I just added it to my library and couldn't wait to get my hands on it - then I read the blurb and I was even more excited. Any who, that was my first experience with Crown of Feathers, but my excitement at the cover is nothing compared to how this book made me feel.

From the very first page I was drawn in and I was hooked. I am a sucker for worlds that feel so fleshed out and alive. Yes, the book does start a little info-dumpy but trust me, it pays off big time and I really appreciated all the info we're given about the world, about the war that people are still trying to get over, about how oppression is forcing people into hiding. I am a guy who loves me some fantasy and I believe that one of the main areas that fantasy needs to excel in is world building, and this book delivered on all fronts for me. There's history and culture is rich and I loved it.

The book itself is told from three points of view. Veronica is in hiding, on the run, with her controlling sister Val. All her life she has dreamt of being a phoenix rider and will do anything to fulfil her dreams. There is Sev, a soldier, hiding his true self. And finally there is Tristan. Son of the leader of the Phoenix Riders. All three pov's brought different elements to the world and really fleshed the story out. Sometimes with a singular pop everything can seem narrow in a sense. It's what that character is experiencing and not a lot else. Normally if someone was coming into a group we get their reaction as a newbie, so to have Tristan be part of the group already it was good to see his perspective.

Along with the pov's there is also an interweaving sub-text of sorts as we learn the history of legendary Phoenix Rider, Avalkyra Ashfire. These parts were great fun for me and didn't detract from the action going on. It all just added to the sense that Nicki Pau Preto knows her world so well.

The book itself is beautifully written and was an absolute joy to read. I find myself longing for the sequel and at the same time mourning that it is only a duology because I loved this, the world, the characters, so much that I cannot bear to say goodbye already! I cannot wait to read it, but at the same time I know when the time comes I'm going to be emotional! I cannot stress enough just how much people need to read this book. It's fun, magical, dangerous, exhilarating. It has all the emotions you could ever need. 


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Thank you once again to Ink Road Books for asking me to be a part of this blog tour. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for extracts, q&a's and more reviews!



Monday, 1 April 2019

Sky In The Deep Blog Tour


To celebrate the UK release of Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young, Titan Books arranged a blog tour and I am honoured to have been asked to take part. There are some great blogs taking part alongside me so do make sure to check them and their great posts out!

Today, I bring you an an exclusive extract from the book and it's a corker...

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Iri’s voice was tired, his eyes pulled with worry. It was a look I remembered well—one that had been painted on his face many times. 
Again!  
I could hear his voice echoing in my mind. The sun was setting over the fjord and it was almost too dark to see. Our father watched from the window of our home, silhouetted in firelight.  
Again, Eelyn! 
Iri was only a year and a half older than me, but I was always much smaller. I couldn’t hold the shield well enough to fight with it. So he had taught me to fight without one, wielding my axe in my left hand and my sword in my right. He was bruised and bleeding, training me before our first fighting season.  
Again!  
That same look hung in his eyes now. He was wondering if I was strong enough.


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 So who wants to read on? I know I do!

Thank you to Titan for asking me to take part - don't forget to check out all the other great posts as part of the tour including those to come! 

Sky In The Deep is out right now and you can find it in all good bookshops and of course online!

Monday, 7 January 2019

The Fork, the Witch and the Worm Blog Tour


First off, hi... Welcome back. To me. To the blog. I've been MIA for far too long - if you've been around for a while you'll know the last few years have been pretty tumoltuous for me and blogging has taken a massive back seat... I've still been reading, sharing reviews on goodreads and on twitter and I'm also on instagram under @empireofbooks but the blog has been a bit neglected and one of my new years resolutions for this year is to change all that and get back into things well and truly... So when I was asked to take part in this blog tour, supporting one of my favourite authors new books how on earth could I resist? Hopefully this is the first of many!

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Written by: Christopher Paolini.
Published by: Penguin Random House.
Format: Hardback.
Release date: 31/12/2018.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "It's been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon's own unfolding adventure. Included is an excerpt from the memoir of the unforgettable witch and fortune-teller Angela the herbalist, penned by Angela Paolini, the inspiration for the character, herself! Relish the incomparable imagination of Christopher Paolini in this thrilling new collection of stories based in the world of the Inheritance Cycle."

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When Inheritance, the fourth and final book in the Inheritance Cycle was released in 2011 I have to say I was a little upset. I couldn't believe it was all over. I adored this world, these characters so much, I wasn't ready to say goodbye. So when Paolini revealed that at some point he would return to the world of Alagesia and that we hadn't seen the last of our favourite hero and his stunning blue dragon I was delighted. And so I waited and finally the wait is over and was it worth it? You bet your dragon-loving-ass it was!

The Fork, the Witch and the Worm is short by Paolini's past standards. We have been spoiled with 700+ page tomes and whilst TFTW&TW comes in at just 270 pages it is jam-packed with magic, wonder, danger and intrigue. 

Three stories are spread out and bordered through the book, which is split into three parts, with chapters which follow Eragon himself as he is helping to rebuild the world after the fall of Galbatorix's toxic empire. Building a new home for the dragons. Trying to please everyone. Tasks which seem impossible to fulfil within the time he has. He is but one man, how much can he be expected to do?

The stories themselves were just as magical as I had hoped they would be. A story of a wanderer, a look at life through the eyes of Angela the Herbalist, written by Christopher's sister, the very inspiration for the character herself, and a story of a dragon, an Urgal woman hellbent on revenge. My favourite is the story found in the third and final part of the book, The Worm. story titled The Worm of Kulkaras. A story so intense and so all-consuming. The whole book itself was a delight, drawing me back into the world that I had loved so much as a kid when I read the series as and when it was published, but this story itself was so good and magical I found it hard to draw myself away from the page.

As always, Paolini's writing is beautiful. He knows how to pull you in and keep you there. I read the book in two short sittings. It would have been one had I not had a prior engagement, but once you start reading you'll find it had to stop.

The first book I have read in 2019, The Fork, the Witch and the Worm was an absolute delight to read - my only complaint is that there wasn't more! Christopher has said that this is just the first in planned offshoot from the main series, saying online that there'll be as many volumes in the extended Tales from Alagaesia as he can write. Music to my ears! I for one cannot wait to see what other adventures our favourite characters will get up to. TFWT&TW being so short didn't give us time to see many of our favourite characters and with this one subtitled Volume 1: Eragon, I cannot wait to see who we get to travel with next.

It has also made me determined to reread the series itself in full in 2019. It has been so long since I have read the series and I miss the world and the characters within it so, so much. And no doubt there will be things that I missed as there always are upon a first reading. My fellow tour host, Andy at The Pewter Wolf is also intending to reread the series this year... do I sense a read-along? Hmmm... I'm game. 

And can we talk about how there needs to be a Netflix series? Seriously... they've done such a good job of adapting other series. Look at A Series of Unfortunate Events. Much like the Inheritance Cycle it was a well-beloved book series with a poorly received Hollywood adaptation but Netflix have done a great job with the series and it's been a big hit. I would personally love to see this happen for the Inheritance Cycle. To see Eragon and Saphira given the true moment to shine that they deserve... Anyone want to petition? I'm sure I'm not the only one, right? Alagaesia is just such a rich, diverse and wondrous world it just needs to be explored more!

Thank you very much to EdPR for my copy and for asking me to take part in this tour when I have been missing for so long! And thank you to Christopher for once again allowing us into your world!

The Fork, The Witch and The Worm by Christopher Paolini is published by Penguin Random House Children’s and is out now.

Don't forget to look out for tomorrows stop on The Bibliophile Chronicles and of course the rest of the blog tour as it continues!


Monday, 9 April 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi [Review]

Written by: Tomi Adeyemi.
Published by: Macmillan.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 6th March 2018.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’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 the enemy."

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Sometimes, a book comes along that is so rare and special, so unique and timely and just so freaking good that you can hardly believe you have it in your hands, reading page after page of wonder. Surely it cannot be real. It cannot be happening. Children of Blood and Bone is one of those books, and boy oh boy, it's real! Right from the first page we are thrown into a world of oppression, murder, epos journeys and lions big enough that people ride them, much like we do horses. I mean, this alone had me SCREAMING and totally in love with it, let alone the excitement of the book around it. Nailah the lionaire was a massive favourite for me. My dog (a golden lab) is called Nala and the name kept making me think of her and had me imagining what it would be like if she were the size of a lionaire, but given how naughty she is I know she'd be a terrible rider. Ha!

Zélie does not do well with instruction. She is impulsive, acts before she thinks and often gets herself into a whole world of trouble that could be avoided if she just sat back for a second and assessed the situation. I adored her. Her voice. Her thought process, or lack thereof. Her determination and drive to continue to fight even when the odds are unfairly stacked against her. She is a fantastically real and well rounded character that I found myself rooting for, right from the get go. And with a strong cast also narrating the book, from Amari, the crown princess who is rebelling against her fathers regime, and Inan, the crown prince on a mission to return a magical artefact and leave both Zélie and his own sister dead, the stakes are high.

The book clocks in at just under 600 pages, and you'd think there'd be a dip in the excientment somewhere, but no. Every single page served its purpose and drew you closer and closer to a climax that I for one didn't see coming, and when I turned the last page, expecting there to be another chapter, a paragraph, something, ANYTHING, and found only Tomi's acknowledgements, it had me HOWLING for book 2. Howling, I tell you. Howling. Because this book is so magical I could read it again, and again and again and I doubt I would ever get bored of it. You can tell it has been so intricately planned.

Inspired by West African mythology, with a hint of Avatar: The Last Airbender thrown in for good measure, the world that Tomi has created is massive in scope, is so imaginative, and vivid and real. You could almost feel the jungle around you, and the stifling heat of the desert. I was transfixed and I would go as far to say that Children of Blood and Bone is my favourite book since I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli in 2015. It has that magical quality to it that makes it both timely, and timeless all at the same time. Beautifully written. Captivating and lush. You'll be clambering for the sequel. I pray the next year flies by because after that cliff hanger ending I need to know what happens next!! Read it, read it, read it!

And the rights have already been optioned for a movie, with work already under way. You just know this is going to be massive. It's been at number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list since its release and with the hype and excitement surrounding the book, I cannot wait to see how it translates onto the big screen.



Friday, 6 April 2018

Clean by Juno Dawson [Review]

Written by: Juno Dawson.
Published by: Quercus.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 5th April 2018.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom. She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility. From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady. As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all... It's a dirty business getting clean. Addiction and redemption, love and despair. Clean will have you hooked from the first page."

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I've been a long term Juno fan now, since the days Hollow Pike was released, way back in 2012 (has it really been 6 years? YIKES! Time flies!) and haven't been able to get enough since. From witches, to hauntings, from murders by the poolside, to tattoos that take over the mind, Juno is in a league of her own and in Clean she really shines. In what is, in my humble opinion, her best book yet, Juno tackles the tricky world of addiction and recovery. 

Featuring a cast of the rich and privileged. A sharp protagonist in the form of Lexi who is used to having everything handed to her, so when we meet her, waking up in the back of her brothers car with no idea where she is going we know that things are about to kick off. Forced into a rehabilitation facility against her will, Lexi is furious and the language and thoughts of someone being forced into something they really do not want to do were perfectly captured and Juno did an excellent job of showing Lexi's anger without it going o.t.t, but still being a explosion of feelings. Whilst she may seem, on the surface as the stereotypical spoilt child of a multi-millionaire (think Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton...) as the book progresses we see that Lexi is actually an incredibly three-dimensional character and I loved her back story. By the end of the book I actually found myself really rooting for her, despite hating her in the first few chapters of the book. 

The book itself deals with many different forms of addiction. Drugs. Food. Sex. All have addictive qualities and all are explored in the book with varying scenarios and outcomes. It was fascinating to see inside the mind of someone who is addicted to something and then to see them work through their recovery. The book is split into ten sections, steps, each one dedicated to a step in a recovery programme and this really added to the feel of the book and I looked forward to the next one popping up to see what the next step was.

The exploration of mental health was also expertly done. So often, mental health is swept under the carpet and ignored, but here it is front and centre and dealt with so well that many teens, and indeed adults, who will read Clean will find themselves a place  of understanding in this book that made me, for one, feel as though I'm not alone.

Something this book also does incredibly well is trans reputation! And it is about damn time! Kendall is trans but it's all so natural. It's just a fact. It isn't something that is questioned, the interactions between Kendall and the other characters are so fluid and natural and real, just the way it should be in real life with any human being. Hopefully trans readers who have never seen themselves represented in any way shape or form before may come to Clean and see that, yes, while Kendall has her problems, she's real and human and has just as much right to live her life as anyone else. Bravo, Juno!

AND THAT COVER!!!! LORD THE COVER!!!! Rose gold! I have the proof (with a finished copy on pre-order, obvs...) which is a little different with a white cover, rose gold text and words written in this glossy effect that you can only see in certain light, but the cover for the finished book is rose gold foil and I can't wait to see it for myself, because you know it's going to be STUNNING!

As ever with Juno, her writing is witty, sharp and encapsulating. I found myself unable to put the book down. Pardon the pun, but it's an incredibly addictive read that will have you glued to the page. Thank you so much for sharing another awesome book with us. Here's to many, many more!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

THE WRONG TRAIN BLOG TOUR - Extract and Review



Today it gives me the greatest pleasure to play host to a stop on The Wrong Train blog tour. This book is truly an amazing find and one perfect for this time of year. It's a fanstastic little read that won't take you long as it's so gripping you'll be tearing through page after page.

Set out as a collection of short stories with an interlocking narrative in the form of scenes surrounding a boy who has, you guessed it, gotten the wrong train and has been abandoned at a stop where there are no trains coming and just an elderly man to keep him company and some spooky tales that only seem to breed the young boys fear further still.

I really enjoyed the sections between the stories featuring our main character and the old man who tells him these dark and twisted tales. My only gripe was that these were too short and too few. I really really loved these sections.

From creepy old ladies called forth by black candles burning in the night to rid parents of their "mistakes", to Dead Molly, the book gets darker and darker as it goes on. I would certainly recommend it, especially if you're looking for something creepy and spine-tingling to read over Halloween. However, I would recommend that if you do read it, you make sure you have plenty of lights on and make sure you aren't home a lone either as any little sound will make you jump out of your skin! If you're looking for happy endings, let me tell you, you're looking in completely the wrong place! The book itself builds and builds to a crescendo that will live you positively chilled to the bone.

If you don't believe me, take a read of this extract below, the first chapter, courtesy of David Fickling Books for your pleasure!



My thanks to Carolyn at David Fickling Books for asking me to be a part of this tour and for my review copy!