Currently Reading

Currently reading: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas [Review]

Written by: Sarah J. Maas.
Published by: Bloomsbury.
Format: Paperback.
Released: 2nd August 2012.
Rating:


Official synopsis: "Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness. In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught. Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?"

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Man! What is it with me this year being late to the party! Yikes! First it was Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series which I started last month and now it's this... Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I really do not know what has taken me so long, why it has taken me the amount of time it has to actually pick the book up. I've had a copy of this for so long, both physically and on my Kindle as I knew whenever i eventually got around to reading it it would have to be on my Kindle because there wasn't a chance on earth that I'd risk damaging my beautiful finished copy, with it's perfect white spine and stunning cover which you can see above. I also had Crown of Midnight, which I got around publication and I already had Throne of Glass so I'd been sitting on it for a year. Yikes. That is terrible. I think part of my apprehension was the hype surrounding the book. I had heard so many things, so many people, blogger friends and non-bloggers alike, that it's epic, wonderfully written and so on. I was scared that a book with such a beautiful cover might have a flaw somewhere. As Beetee said, there is always a flaw in the system.

But when it comes to Throne of Glass I can throw my head back and howl with conviction that this book is flawless. It overshot my expectations big time! BIG TIME! I'd hoped it would be amazing but what unfolded before my eyes took my breath away and surprised me.

The world building is incredible. I loved the way that little tidbits were revealed as the story went along. It didn't feel like everything was being shown all in one go, like one massive information dump, and I really liked that. I think world building works far better that way, I find that I remember a lot more if its given in dribs and drabs rather than in one long section.

Celaena herself is an awesome character. She feels dangerous, unpredictable and untameable whilst at the same time there's this edge to her that you can tell some of it is just a front to protect herself. I liked this about her, and the fact that she is supposed to be the most dangerous assassin in all of Erilea was great, because everyone seems to be scared of her to start with even though she has been sent to the salt mines in Endovier for her crimes. We also meet Dorian, the Crown Prince of Adarlan, son of the King of Adarlan who is intent on taking over all of the kingdoms. Dorian himself is a bit more laid-back than his father. There's a cocky, arrogant and swaggy air about Dorian, himself. He's so sure of himself and isn't ashamed of his luck with the ladies. As well as Dorian we also meet Chaol, the King's guard, a fearful and authoritative figure who mistrusts Celaena and every step she takes. And rounding up our main cast, for now, is Princess Nehemia who becomes Celaena's best friend, Princess of Eyllwe and staying in the glass palace for the time being.

Maas' writing is so fluid and crisp that I quickly got into a rhythm and couldn't stop reading. Throne of Glass is an epic blend of fantastic writing and fantastical plot that is brilliantly executed and built up to keep the suspense going and the reader turning the pages at a hellish speed. You'll fall in love with the world, with the characters and with Maas' style itself! I cannot express just how much I which I had picked up these books sooner! It really was such an epic read!

I am currently reading the second book in the series, Crown of Midnight, and I didn't think it was possible for it to be even better than Throne of Glass, but so far I have been proved wrong! Look out for my review for that one soon!

I cannot wait to bet caught up with this series, although I'm dreading it too because then I have to wait like everyone else for the next book and I'm so impatient! Haha!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

#BePrepared for The Infinite Sea

The release of the second book in Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave is fast approaching and in little over a week, The Infinite Sea will be upon us and we finally get to see what happens next after the chilling and thrilling first instalment that has us all hooked and on the edge!

To celebrate the release of The Infinite Sea, Puffin are asking bloggers what exactly they would take with them in their backpack if there was an apocalypse on the horizon to help them survive, and without further ado, here is what I would pack in my alien invasion/apocalypse survival backpack...

Number 1) A camera and lots of batteries. I'd want to document what was going on so that if civilisation ever recovered it would never be forgotten and we'd tell tales about heroes as we do today with past horrors, like the World Wars.

Number 2) My favourite book, so that even if it was the only thing I could ever read again I would love it every time I read it regardless... Do not, however, ask me what my favourite book is right now, because I don't know. It changes everyday, so it'd be whatever it was on the day the apocalypse began...

Number 3) Deodorant. Aliens or no aliens, I still want to smell nice!

Number 4) My iPod. Music is so important and I want to listen to my favourite jams even if it is the end of the world! I'd dance my cares away!

Number 5) A weapon of some kind. I'd want some kind of protection, but I am such a wimp I would just pray that I never had to use it.

And finally, providing I can find a backpack big enough I would take... Number 6) a picture of  my family. They mean everything to me, and hopefully they would be with me, alive and well, but I'd want a photo of us all together anyway, just to make me smile and remind me of happy times.

So there you have it. That would be my survival backpack! I love this idea and it took me ages to think about what I would actually take with me! What would you guys take with you? Leave a comment below, I'm really intrigued!

Also, Puffin are asking us to share our favourite quote from the book, and mine is as follows...

"Aliens are stupid. 
I'm not talking about real aliens. The Others aren't stupid. The Others are so far ahead of us, it's like comparing the dumbest human to the smartest dog. No contest.
No, I'm talking about the aliens inside our own heads. 
The ones we made up, the ones we've been making up since we realised those glittering lights in the sky were suns like ours and probably had other plants like ours spinning around them. You know, the aliens we imagine, the kind of aliens we'd like to attack us, human aliens. You've seen them a million times. They swoop down from the sky in their flying saucers to level New York and Tokyo and London, to they march across the countryside in huge machines that look like mechanical spiders, ray guns blasting away, and always, always, humanity sets aside its differences and bands together to defeat the alien horde. David slays Goliath, and everybody (except Goliath) goes hope happy.
What crap."


I love that scene so much. It's from the beginning and I think it really helps to set the tone for the rest of the book and it's just such a good opening section. It goes on and it gets even better from there on in, so you'll just have to pick up a copy of The 5th Wave to see how it continues! Hurry, The Infinite Sea comes out on 16th September, so you don't have very long to get caught up! And remember, #BePrepared! 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

Written by: Michelle Paver.
Published by: Orion.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 2nd September 2004.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Thousands of years ago the land is one dark forest. Its people are hunter-gatherers. They know every tree and herb and they know how to survive in a time of enchantment and powerful magic. Until an ambitious and malevolent force conjures a demon: a demon so evil that it can be contained only in the body of a ferocious bear that will slay everything it sees, a demon determined to destroy the world. Only one boy can stop it—12 year old Torak, who has seen his father murdered by the bear. With his dying breath, Torak’s father tells his son of the burden that is his. He must lead the bear to the mountain of the World Spirit and beg that spirit’s help to overcome it. Torak is an unwilling hero. He is scared and trusts no one. His only companion is a wolf cub only three moons old, whom he seems to understand better than any human. Theirs is a terrifying quest in a world of wolves, tree spirits and Hidden People, a world in which trusting a friend means risking your life."

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I genuinely do not know where to start with this one. Not at all. First off, I cannot believe in my four years of blogging I haven't reviewed this series yet! I did like a summary thing about my love for the whole series when I first started but since then, nothing. I know they've been out for a while but these books mean a lot to me and I've always intended to review them all, one by one. And what better time to start than the tenth anniversary of the publication of the first book, Wolf Brother? It hardly seems real. Ten years! Ten years? No way! Get out of here! It can't be ten years already, can it? Answer... Yes it can, and it is. I still remember the day I first saw Michelle and heard her talking about this book. I remember she was on Blue Peter, and I was in awe. She was in a grass field, talking to the presenter, don't ask me who, I can't remember, with a wolf, a real live wolf, walking beside her. She was talking about a book she had written about a boy named Torak who can communicate with a wolf cub, and is the only one who can rid the Forest of a demon bear that is terrorising it. Well, that was me sold!

But enough about my past with this book. It's time to talk about the book itself... I decided that I should re-read the book, re-connect with it and re-learn it, before I reviewed it again. It has been a few years since I last read it and even the best of minds fail at some time and I really wanted to dive back into this wold again so desperately that the tenth anniversary feels like a good time to do that. so I picked up my old hardback and nestled down again, ready to be plummeted into the world of the Forest. Of hunter gathers, of clans, of animals and nature and magic and power and demon bears. 

And as soon as I started reading that first page, I fell instantaneously in love again. It was as if I had never left the leafy protection of a world that meant so much to the me of ten years ago when I fist read this book and as i continued to read this amazing series. Once again I was pulled into a world so real, so vivid and so well described that I could smell the damp bark, hear the soft crunch of leaves under my reindeer hide boots and almost taste the salty fat of a woodgrouse sizzling over a fire. Such is the magic of Michelle's writing. It's so captivating, so encapsulating, so rich.

And I loved meeting the characters just as much as I did the first time too. Torak is one of my favourite main characters of all time. And Renn, Fin-Kedinn, Saeunn, the whole gang. Especially Wolf!

And you know what, I had forgotten just how utterly chilling and terrifying some parts of the book are. The parts with the tokoroths, children possessed by demons, had me literally squirming as they did when I read them ten years ago. It was so good to relive these parts and I'm glad I had forgotten just how scary it was because I got to have those moments all over again. Shamefully there are bits that I had forgotten but that is the beauty of re-reading. It felt like I was experiencing it all over again and it was mesmerising and so so so much fun to delve back in to. In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that I want to read the whole series again, just to experience the magic all over again. I am glad to say that 22 year old Ryan loved Wolf Brother just as much as 12 year old Ryan did ten years ago. That's the true testament to a good story I believe. It transcends age. Yes, it was written primarily as a children's book, but ever since it was published it was well known that the book had massive crossover appeal and now as an adult, albeit a grossly immature one at that, I'm glad that that is the case. I had worried that it wouldn't stand the test of time and that my tastes might of changed over the years. I doubted that it would of because I adore her new series, Gods and Warriors, but the fear was there nonetheless. Thankfully it was unwarranted and left as soon as I opened the book.

If you're a fan of all things nature, magic and adventure, then I implore you to pick up Wolf Brother and indeed the rest of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Whether it is for yourself, your children, your nephews and nieces, cousins, friends, neighbours, whatever. Do it. Pick them up. These little books have so much to answer for as far as I am concerned - they kept me sane in a period of my life when it was very hard to even want to stay sane, they showed me a light that I didn't know was possible and inspired me beyond belief. Michelle knows how much of a fan I am - lord knows I've written to her enough times over the years - but I just cannot stress how much I love these books and think they deserve to be huge. They've done well but Michelle deserves so much more recognition where this series is concerned. It's gold and beautiful and rich and oh so tantalising.

Thank you to Michelle for being so amazing and Orion Children's Books for publishing it in the first guys! Cannot wait to see you here for the 20th Anniversary!!





Sunday, 31 August 2014

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare [Review]

Written by: Cassandra Clare.
Published by: Walker Books.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 25th March 2008.
Rating: 


Official synopsis: "Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father. To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father? In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation."

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Boy oh boy, do I regret not reading this series sooner? I am a massive late comer to the series, only reading City of Bones last month, after the final book in the colossal six book series, City of Heavenly Fire came out, so I have A LOT of catching up to do! I plan to read a book a month so that I'll finish the series in December - the reason for this is I want to read other books too and feel like if I read them all in one go I'll gorge myself on everything Shadowhunter and give myself Mortal Instrument fatigue, and I don't want that to happen...

While I did find City of Ashes a little slow to start off with, once it got going I was pumped and had the pages turning so fast they were almost a blur. The thing about Clare's writing is that even when it's a particularly slow bit, it's still so enticing and it just captures you and pulls you in. 

The characters really grow in this book and begin to shine even more than they did in City of Bones. I do have to say though, that I am very very VERY undecided on Clary. Sometimes I like her and think she's a great characters, but then there are other moments where I just cannot stand her. I don't know what it is - I did like the new dynamic between her and Simon but at times it felt a little forced.

However, that said the main plot of the book was fantastic and I am now gagging for book three! I really am so excited to see how this originally planned trilogy will continue and then how it picks up again in City of Fallen Angels. Luckily i have it on my shelf! Thank the heavens! See you here in September for my review of City of Glass! I cannot wait!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Zeroboxer


Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee
publishes 8th April 2015.

A high-action sci-fi about a young man battling to make it to the top in the world of zero gravity prizefighting, amid brewing interplanetary conflict, pitched as Rocky meets Gattaca. 
Eighteen-year-old Carr “the Raptor” Luka is an athletic phenom, a rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing. Training and competing aboard the lunar orbiting city-station of Valtego (where It’s More Fun on the Dark Side TM), all he’s ever wanted is to win the championship title. 
His talent and marketability don’t go unnoticed by the top brass of the Zero Gravity Fighting Association. They assign him a brandhelm; after all, anyone who wants to be anyone needs a dedicated personal marketing strategist. Beautiful and ambitious, Risha is one of the genetically engineered Martian colonists that Earth dwellers view with resentment and suspicion. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity, and stolen his heart along the way. 
But success could be the worst thing that happens to them. As his fame grows, Carr must come to terms with the fact that he’s become an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet now angry at falling into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. When Carr learns of a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating personal secret. Not only will his choices place into jeopardy everything he holds dear, they may spill the violence from the sports arena out into the solar system.

Well this sounds promising, doesn't it? I just happened across it on Goodreads and the cover took my eye (kind of a mix of World War Z and Susan Ee's Angelfall...) and when I read the premise I knew this would be one to add to the To Read list! It's just a shame that it's not out for another eight months, I'm so impatient!!

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth [Review]

Written by: Veronica Roth.
Published by: HarperCollins.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 8th July 2014.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Complete your Divergent library with FourFans of the Divergent series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by Four: A Divergent Collection, a companion volume that includes four pre-Divergent stories plus three additional scenes from Divergent, all told from Tobias's point of view. Readers first encountered Tobias as "Four" in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character's backstory told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias's life. The first three pieces in this volume—"The Transfer," "The Initiate," and "The Son"—follow Tobias's transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions. The fourth story, "The Traitor," runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty—and love—that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior."

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This year has been a very exciting year for fans of Veronica Roth and her epic trilogy. Not only did we get to finally see the world of Divergent come to life in March/April (dependant on where you live in the world, seeing as the movie industry seem to love delaying films here in the UK...) with the release of the first movie in what is promising to be a visually beautiful and epic series of films but we also get to go deeper into the mind of one of the best characters in the series. Four!

When Veronica first announced that she was writing four short stories about, well... FOUR, I was so pumped! I loved the trilogy so so much that it didn't matter what it was Veronica was writing about, so long as it went back into that world be it before Four meets Tris or after or whatever it was, I didn't care, I would be happy. I just wanted more, more, more. I genuinely cannot get enough of the world that Veronica created. And as well as that I always liked Four, in fact I downright loved him, especially the more we got see of him, so to get inside his head, even more than we did in the chapters he narrated in Allegiant was an exciting prospect and I couldn't want to get started.

Fast forward to July and thanks to Barnes and Nobles in America I now have a signed Veronica Roth book... Yes! SIGNED! I squealed with excitement and danced like a nutjob but I loved it and I love my copy! I wanted to go and meet her when she came over here last November to promote Allegiant but I couldn't make it thanks to work, and then when I went to the Divergent premiere earlier this year I just couldn't get close enough which was a shame, so I finally got a signed copy which makes me happy!

We start things off with last years The Transfer, which was initially published just before the final instalment in the trilogy. It follows Four when he was still Tobias, living in Abnegation with his horrid father, Marcus. He's scared and alone and knows he must get away. When I got my copy, I was in two minds as to whether I should re-read it or not, seeing as I had read it when it was released on its own and I decided against it so I could get on with the other three new stories.

The Initiate was the first new look into Tobias' head as goes through Dauntless initiation. Parts of it felt a bit like a sense of deja vu, as some sections are pretty similar to the initiation process Tris went through in Divergent. However, with Four's voice, this little niggle soon disappeared and I found myself really being sucked in to Tobias' head. I also really like that with this novella we get to see his initial reactions to his fear landscape and the moment he earns the name he had when we first met him. Something I also loved was seeing Eric as the underdog. Throughout Divergent it seems like Eric has some kind of power complex and is wary of Four and here we see why, because Four was so much better than him in initiation.

Now, The Son really trounced all my expectations. I had thought it would revolve around Marcus. Didn't we all? But no, it's different and I really liked that it gives us a real insight into what is to come in the main trilogy as Four learns that his mother isn't actually dead and that she is already trying to recruit him into her Factionless folds. 

And finally The Traitor brings us up to speed, overlapping with key scenes from the first book of the trilogy. It was great getting Four's initial thoughts about Tris, what he thought she was like, how much he liked her. It was just fun to see and it also answers an age old question that I know has plagued me for so long.... How did some of the Abnegation know the Dauntless were going to attack them one day? The answer lies within The Traitor.

Before the book is over however, there are three fan favourite scenes from the first book written from Four's point of view and I loved that little insight too. Things like that are just so fun to read, aren't they?!?!

Overall, Four is a great addition. Casual readers might not be that fussed about it, and I've seen a lot of reviews where people have said that they feel these short stories add nothing to the story, that they are pointless and just an excuse for HarperCollins and Veronica to make more money. But I couldn't disagree more. For big fans of the series, like myself, this little collection gives an insight into one of our favourite characters. It shows him grow from a scared boy, terrified of his father and of the violence he has faced, into a strong, confident, dark and brooding young man that sweeps Tris Prior off her feet and helps save the city. It is a definite read for the people who are obsessed with everything Divergent

As ever, Roth's writing is fantastic. Engrossing and to the point, you're driven forward through page after page just wanting to see what Four will say or think next.

I for one loved this collection and quite honestly would read ANYTHING written in this world. I have fallen in love with the world of Divergent and I cannot believe this is the last time we get to venture into it. There is so much potential out there for the world. So many ways that Roth can explore it. Some would say it would be ridiculous, a blatant cash machine... But look at the likes of Cassandra Clare who pretty much only writes within the world of the Shadowhunters... It's worked for her and continues to do so. Imagine a collection of short stories about different divergents over the years? Or something to do with Edith Prior? There is so much more that could be done and I for would would love to get just another glimpse of what lies within the fence.