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

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Viper's Daugher by Michelle Paver [Review]

Written by: Michelle Paver.
Published by: Head of Zeus.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 2nd April 2020.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "For two summers Torak and Renn have been living in the Forest with their faithful pack-brother, Wolf. But their happiness is shattered when Renn realizes Torak is in danger - and she's the threat. When she mysteriously disappears, Torak and Wolf brave the Far North to find her. At the mercy of the Sea Mother and haunted by ravenous ice bears, their quest leads them to the Edge of the World. There they must face an enemy more evil than any they've encountered. Viper's Daughter plunges you back into the Stone-Age world of Torak, Renn and Wolf: a world of demons, Hidden People and exhilarating adventure which has entranced millions of readers."


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Anyone that knows me at all knows that I am a Michelle Paver stan. That's right. Not a fan. A stan. If she released her shopping lists, bound together with a cover, I'd buy it and read it again, and again. Since 2004 when I first read Wolf Brother, the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, I haven't looked back and haven't missed a single book that has been released... She's my fave, basically...

So you can imagine the excitement I felt when last year, Michelle announced that there wouldn't be just one, but three, yes THREE, brand new books in the series, taking the total from six, to nine. It had long been teased, and Michelle had said time and time again that she would never say never and that if the ideas came to her then she would of course love to revisit the world of the Forest, and go on adventures again with the lovable Torak, Renn, Wolf and the whole ensemble. And by God I'm glad she had the right ideas because reading this was like stepping back in time (well, obviously it is set 6,000 years ago...) to being that kid again so in awe. 

Reading it felt like coming home. You see, I had a rough patch when I read the series the first time. Most of us do. Adolescence... Ugh... But the books were a constant for me. Somewhere I could escape and feel free, and it didn't matter what was going on in the outside world. I was with Torak, Renn and Wolf, and we, together, fought the Soul-Eater's and the demons of the Forest. Then, when my mum passed away in 2016, I reread the series three times and each time I felt more and more like the me I had been before. 

The moment I picked this book up, I took a deep breath, and I won't lie, I was scared... I had been waiting for this moment for ten years (since the last book, Ghost Hunter was published...). What if it wasn't good. What if it, like a lot of series revisits, just soured what was originally there? I needn't have worried because from the first page I was there. It was back, and oh my, it was magical! I felt like I was home and it was an emotional moment for me!

Despite the fact that she has been away from the world for the best part of a decade, the characters feel as rich as they ever did. Torak is still as head strong as he was in Ghost Hunter, Renn is still as stubborn and Wolf is as lovable as he has ever been in the series. It was so nice to see the characters that we fell in love with in the first place, plus a whole array of new characters, both human and otherwise... We meet clans that we haven't met previously and getting to see their different views and way of living was very interesting. The mixture of cultures within the series was always something I really loved.

And the twist... There is a twist. Who doesn't love a twist? I didn't see it coming and when it hit me I gasped and actually had to put the book down and take a breather for a moment of two before continuing on. The climatic scenes were exhilarating and took the book towards a very satisfying end that leaves you desperate for more, and thank the Guardian's there are still two more to come, so thankfully we get more!

As magical and exciting as ever, her writing more crisp and exciting than ever, Michelle has breathed new life into her own series ready for a new generation of avid readers to fall in love the exact same way that I did. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us in Book 8, Skintaker, and Book 9!

My thanks to the lovely people at Zephyr for my copy, and to Michelle for signing it. There's a reason your my favourite because as well as being a great writer, you're a lovely person too!

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Wranglestone blog tour!



I am so happy and honoured today to be hosting a stop on the Wranglestone blog tour to celebrate the release of the book of the same name by Darren Charlton! It’s been one of my most anticipated books for a while now and a review is on the way, but today it’s all about Darren and a letter to his younger self! Take it away, Darren!

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Dear Darren, 

Now, you won’t know this whilst you’re busy bumbling around school being the subplot, the sidekick or the GBF (before such a thing even existed), to all your friends. You won’t know that whilst they’re experiencing their first loves and get to see the rest of the whole wide world mirror their own experiences back to them in books, (Heathcliff and Cathy) TV (Charlene and Scott) and film (Han and Leia), that your time will come. Not only will you go on to experience all those things for yourself, but you’ll go on to write about them too, and have them turned into a book.

More than that, this book, with its two loved-up boys living in a crazy world of dangerous monsters and even more dangerous grown-ups, will also find its way into some schools and some children’s lives. I know. This is unimaginable, right? Because where you are right now, such books not only don’t even exist yet but would be illegal even if they did. 

So, hold on. You will lose all that weight. You will go on to university despite failing your A levels twice because you fought for a place down the telephone, and you will go on with that ‘useless’ 2:1 English Literature and Theatre studies degree to have a creative life. And maybe the best kind, too.

You’re going to be a storyteller giving teenagers like you, something you’ll never have, a book that might just have helped you on your way. A story with two boys who love each other very much. 

But you will go bald! By 24. (sorry

Love, 
darren x 

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It’s so nice to think about the advice we’d give our younger selves now knowing what we know. My advice to my younger self would be don’t be such a push over and stop being so scared all the time. What would your advice to your younger self be?

Wranglestone is out right now and you’d be doing yourself a real injustice if you didn’t go out and get yourself a copy!

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Re-vamped Vampirates Series Covers!

Long term visitors to the blog may have heard me rave before about a series that was published between 2005 and 2011, comprising of six main novels and novella released for World Book Day in 2007. I was always a huge fan of the series, written by Justin Somper. I even ran a fan site and fan forums back in the day! So I've been there from the start, from when the covers looked like this...



Before they got their first re-design just in time for the fourth book, Black Heart to be published in 2009!



I even have a few of the US editions, which are absolutely STUNNING!!!



Now, in 2020, the books are being re-released with a new publisher and a new look, ready to set sail on another voyage to find a new audience! The covers for Demons of the Ocean, Tide of Terror and (my personal favourite of the series...) Blood Captain, have been unveiled and they'll be available to buy from 5th March.


I really like them. I love the tattoo style of them. The colours. Ugh. I really like them. In all honesty my absolute fave has always been the original style just because it was so cool and colourful and I adore the original UK logo for the series! Plus I think there is something special about that first cover you read a series with. It always leaves an imprint on you. However, these new UK ones are brilliant and are a massive improvement on the original re-release over here in the UK. I just can't wait to see new readers find the series back in print and with covers like these they're going to stand out from the crowd! Can't wait to see the rest of the series! Justin has also revealed that each book will have new material as well, so I'm looking forward to seeing what that will be.

Roll on March!

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Most Anticipated Reads of 2020

Hello there. And welcome back to my blog! I have massively neglected it the last few years. Won't lie, I've had an absolutely horrific 2019 and despite intentions to get back into blogging I have just had so much going on that I just didn't manage to find the time. However, one of my new years resolutions for 2020 is to try and work at it a bit more. I am really hoping that things calm down personally in 2020 so that I can have a bit more time to enjoy myself and to do things that I like. So hopefully the blog will get a lot more attention. 

And there are a lot of titles coming out next year that I cannot wait for! I have already been lucky enough to read one of the books that I was looking forward to the most, and that is Michelle Paver's long awaited return to the world of the Forest from her Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. Viper's Daughter is the seventh instalment and picks up several moons after the events of Ghost Hunter which was published way, way, WAY back in 2009. I loved every page and a review will be making an appearance nearer to its April publication date!

That being said, there are tonnes of other books coming out in 2020 that I cannot wait for, so I thought I'd highlight a few of them. From a return to the world of The Hunger Games, to dragons, gay YA which I am dying for, and adventures in space, there is a lot too look forward to. 

I was going to try and put them in some kind of order. Publication. In order of my excitement, but there isn't an order I could stick to as my mind was getting too excited about them all so they're just here in order that they came to me!

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Wranglestone by Darren Charlton.

I'm lucky enough to have a copy of this already, thanks to the lovely publisher, and as I'm off work over Christmas I may read it before the New Year, but either way, it is a book I have been looking forward to for months. The synopsis had me hooked right away, and that cover... Gorge!

"Winter was the only season every Lake-Lander feared... In a post-apocalyptic America, a community survives in a national park, surrounded by water that keeps the Dead at bay. But when winter comes, there's nothing to stop them from crossing the ice. Then homebody Peter puts the camp in danger by naively allowing a stranger to come ashore and he's forced to leave the community of Wranglestone. Now he must help rancher Cooper, the boy he's always watched from afar, herd the Dead from their shores before the lake freezes over. But as love blossoms, a dark discovery reveals the sanctuary's secret past. One that forces the pair to question everything they've ever known."

SOLD! Give it to me! It is out 6th February!

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Hideous Beauty by William Hussey.

More gay YA! Yes please! I've been a long time reader of Will, actually reviewing his Witchfinder books back when the blog first started and this book sounds right up my street! I actually remember having a little convo with Will on twitter where we said all the mainstream YA books about gay teens are so Americanised and we said it would be nice to have something British feeling, and well, Will went and wrote it! The cover is gorgeous, the premise... I cannot deal...

"When Dylan and Ellis’s secret relationship is exposed on social media, Dylan is forced to come out. To Dylan’s surprise they are met with support and congratulations, and an amazing reception at their highschool dance. Perhaps people aren’t as narrow-minded as he thought? But Dylan’s happiness is short-lived. Ellis suddenly becomes angry, withdrawn, and as they drive home from the dance, he loses control of the car, sending it plunging into Hunter’s Lake. Barely conscious, Dylan is pulled free of the wreck, while Ellis is left to drown. Grief-stricken, Dylan vows to discover what happened to Ellis that night and piece together the last months of his boyfriend’s life – and realises just how little he knew about the boy he loved. "

To say I am anticipating this would be an UNDERSTATEMENT. I don't want it. I need it! Roll on 28th May!

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Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth.

Veronica Roth is pretty much an insta-buy author for me. I adored the Divergent trilogy, including the ending... Loved the Carve the Mark duology and wish there were more! I am also now reading her collection of short stories, The End and Other Beginnings which I am enjoying, so when this was announced, her debut adult novel I was intrigued...

"A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones. Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended."

It's out on 7th April and I love the idea behind it all. Who hasn't wondered what their favourite heroes are up to years after the end of the story? After they've gone home from war, after they have stopped being the hero. What then? Very excited to see how this turns out!

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Burn by Patrick Ness.

It's Patrick Ness... Is there any explanation needed? Of course I'm going to bloody read it. But when it's about dragons (one of my fave!) and the cover looks like that, how the hell could I not?!

"In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst's father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?"

I mean, you want it... Right? It's published on 7th May!

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Boy Queen by George Lester.

If you're over on twitter, you've probably encountered George. He's a lovely guy and now he's about to become a published author too! Boy Queen is his debut and he's said the book is hella gay and I am hella here for it!

"Life's a drag until you try . . . Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart. While his friends prepare to head off to University, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet. Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realises there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . . With a mother who won't stop talking, a boyfriend who won't acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there's only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway. Boy Queen by George Lester is a sparkling debut full of big hair, big heels and even bigger hearts."

Doesn't it sound great? I cannot wait to get stuck into it on 6th August!

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To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini.

He's been teasing it for years... Quite literally, years! Updating his twitter every time he has finished a chapter, every time that he has drafted the book. Always with the hashtag #TSiaSos, teasing the title from the very beginning. And now, it has finally been announced, a date has been set and the countdown is well and truly on!

"During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, xenobiologist Kira Navárez finds an alien relic that thrusts her into the wonders and the nightmares of first contact. Epic space battles for the fate of humanity take her to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and, in the process, transform not only her—but the entire course of history."

I for one cannot wait for 15th September to get here to see what Christopher has been working on for all these years. The Inheritance Cycle is one of my all time favourite series and i am looking forward to seeing what he has in store. It's a stand alone and according to early repots we're looking at something well over 800 pages long! Yes, please!

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Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood  by Sarah J. Maas.

I am a massive SJM fan boy. Don't come for me. I adored the Throne of Glass series and miss it and the characters so, so much, it is insane. I also liked the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, but ToG is where it is at. But this is her latest offering. The first in a series for adults. We know SJM likes writing big books. I mean, Kingdom of Ash was only just shy of 1000 pages and my heart couldn't take it. According to the listing for House of Earth and Blood, it's 832 pages long! And just look at that freaking cover! Her covers are always so bloody good!

"Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths. Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach. As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it. With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love."

Originally due early January, the book has actually been pushed back until 3rd March, but I am sure it'll 110% be worth the wait!

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins.

I actually am losing my mind over this, still! Months after the announcement I am still losing my mind! I have said time and time again that this world lends itself so well to tell so many stories. The possibilities are endless... And now Suzanne has heard our cries and has decided to bestow upon us a prequel! Set 64 years before we meet our beloved Katniss and our lovers, Peeta and Gale. Yes, both at the same time. It's 2019. Don't judge! I for one cannot wait. 

"The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will revisit the world of Panem sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games, starting on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games."

Well the synopsis doesn't give a lot away does it?! The horrible font on the cover aside, the days cannot go by fast enough. Roll on 19th May!

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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna.

This book has only been announced very recently, but already the buzz surrounding it is huge! Likened of Children of Blood and Bone, The Gilded Ones has an absolutely STUNNING cover which just makes me want to do heart eyes the entire time, and the premise itself just has me gagging to read it!

"The start of a bold and immersive West African-inspired, feminist fantasy series for fans of Children of Blood and Boneand Black Panther. In this world, girls are outcasts by blood and warriors by choice. Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity--and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki--near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat. Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be--not even Deka herself."

Is it 26th May yet? Asking for a friend... That friend is me and he is DESPERATE to read this book. One thing I do think is very, VERY cool is that the publisher have said they're going to be giving the book to BAME reviews first and I am HERE FOR IT!!! I wish more publishers sent the books to the audience they're primarily aimed at. I've seen a few books featuring gay males as the leads that seem to be shoved towards the straight females for review and I wish more gay readers had the chance to read them first and get their view out. So the fact that this is the case for The Gilded Ones. Props to the publisher. Killing it!

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I know I have missed off loads. There are tonnes and tonnes of new books coming out, and of course ones that haven't even been announced yet that may just spring up on us like sneaky gifts from the book gods. But these are the ones I could think of when I thought of the books I am looking forward to most and ones that I want to add to my ever growing and never shrinking tbr pile! Are there any here you're excited about? Is there something I have missed that you think I might like? Let me know! Tweet me. Comment. Whatever. Just let me know!

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!