Currently Reading

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

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!

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!