Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Blog Tour: Review of The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

Hi everyone! I'm the first stop on the blog tour for The Crown's Game, a new fantasy novel by Evelyn Skye about two enchanters who must fight in a duel to determine whose magic is strongest. The winner becomes the Imperial Enchanter - the loser dies. If that sounds like your thing, I hope you enjoy my review! (And if it doesn't, read my review anyway because you might change your mind. And look at how beautiful the cover is. LOOK.)


The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1) by Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer +Bray
Released: May 17th 2016
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
The Crown’s Game was an enjoyable read and while I had a few issues with it, I think it won me over by the end, and I’m looking forward to picking up book two when it’s released!

Vika was an enchanter, and had trained her whole life to become the Tsar’s Imperial Enchanter. Enchanters were rare, and it never even occurred to her, or her father, that she might not be the only one. She was raised with the confidence and the knowledge that she WOULD be the Imperial Enchanter - not that she would have to compete for the position. Even upon finding out there was another enchanter, Vika still wasn’t too concerned - until she realised the loser of the Crown’s Game would be killed. Everyone expected Vika and the other enchanter to fight seriously, to attempt to kill each other to win, to do whatever it took. And Vika was conflicted - she made half-hearted attempts to kill Nikolai, and he made half-hearted attempts to kill her, but really, I’m not convinced they tried too hard, even before they really knew each other. The way they showed off their magic was unexpected too, but I actually quite liked the artistic nature of it. And while I thought she was a bit impetuous at times, I liked Vika too. She was trying to deal with the situation the best she could.

Nikolai, the other enchanter, was aware that he would be competing in the Crown’s Game. Unlike Vika, he knew he was not the only enchanter, and it gave him somewhat of an advantage at the start. He thought he could do what he was taught by his mentor, the cold and ruthless Galina, and get rid of the other enchanter early on - but when it really came down to it, he faltered. And once he got to know Vika, he was increasingly panicked at how things would turn out, because he knew he would no longer be able to kill this girl. I did like Nikolai, but I feel the romance between him and Vika was a bit rushed, especially since Vika didn’t even know he knew who she was and what she looked like until later on in the book. I also think the ending was a bit dramatic, considering the two hadn’t known each other long at all, and I wasn’t convinced by it. But, the last few pages tdid have me interested, so I am intrigued to find out what happens next.

Pasha, the prince, was best friends with Nikolai, but knew nothing about this magic. I didn’t know what to think of Pasha. He seemed decent but then suddenly changed very quickly towards the end of the book, and while I know he was extremely upset by what had happened, it seemed a bit unbelievable that he changed so drastically. I also think he became too obsessed with Vika too quickly - but, that being said, he was an interesting character and I would like to know what becomes of him in the next book.

Plot-wise, I found the pacing pretty good, and while the world-building was a bit patchy, I was impressed by the fact that I liked both POVs, which is unusual for me (I am not usually a huge fan of dual POVs). I also liked the mystery aspects that unravelled towards the end of the book and am looking forward to finding out more about Nikolai and Vika’s histories in the sequel!

Overall, The Crown’s Game was a quick and engrossing read, and while I didn’t absolutely love it, it was definitely worth reading, and I’d recommend it if you like Russian settings and fantasy.


The Crown's Game is Evelyn Skye's debut novel. Find her via the links below:

Thanks so much to Alice at Harper360 UK for letting me take part in the blog tour! Don't forget to visit the next stop tomorrow at Avid Bibliophile!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

My Little Box May 2016 Review

Soooo, I haven't done one of these for a while. I blame work. I blame all things on work (seriously though, to the bloggers who work full time and consistently post on your blogs, how do you do it?!). Anyway, I have now been subscribed to MLB for a year! So here's a review of this month's box, which has an Italian theme, the My Little Dolce Vita Box.

Love the design of this month's box! That outfit is fab, I would definitely wear that maxi skirt! I like the background scenery too and how it ties in with the Italian theme. I really like the yellow border on the sides of the box as well, it makes it feel a lot more summery!

(I apologise for my horrifically dry skin and terribly chipped nail polish.)

My thoughts on each individual product:

My Little Beauty Bain de Soleil - so this is an illuminating moisturiser for legs which is supposed to build up a gradual tan. I haven't had time to test the tanning effects yet, but for a moisturiser, it's pretty good, and has a nice citrus-y smell. I have really super pale legs at the moment so I will keep using this and see how it goes!

Baija Croisière Céladon Body Oil - I have never used a scented body oil like this before, but the little description card essentially makes it out to be a perfume. The fragrance is green tea and jasmine and is very pleasant! It's not a strong smell, very subtle, and I can't imagine it would last very long, but if you only want a hint of fragrance, that is slightly fruity and floral, then I think this would be perfect.

Courrèges La Fille de L'Air - this is another fragrance, and is a bit stronger than the body oil. It also has a slightly floral scent, but there's something a bit more musky about it too - it's not my favourite, to be honest, it has a slight grandma-ish smell (you know what I mean, right?) but I might still give it a chance and wear it for a whole day to see how it fares.

My Little Box Turban - this is really pretty, but I am so lazy with my hair that I don't think I'd ever wear it. I think it's a great thing to include in the box though - but I'll probably just pass mine on to someone who will make more use out of it.

My Little Box Ring - I adore this ring! It's so cute and it matches a pair of earrings I already have, so I'm really happy with it. I think it will go with a lot of outfits too, and the design is one that you could wear in summer or winter! Very pleases with this product, and I love the tiny little ring box it comes in too!

That's my review of this month's box! What did you think? Did you prefer any other beauty boxes over this one for May?

Monday, 9 May 2016

Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Released: February 23rd 2016
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.
(from Goodreads)

This book. This damn book. Like, what the hell, man? It’s not nice to end a book this way. Nope. Nuh uh. I’m not having it. I can’t have this. It’s just evil. I’m only human, what do you want from me, goddammit?! I can’t just SIT here, after reading THAT and then be like, “Oh la di da, how lovely, I’ll just wait another year to find out what happens!” NO. I can’t wait that long. WHY DO AUTHORS DO THIS TO US, WHY. I just. Whatever.

Because of my current state of mental anguish, which is a DIRECT RESULT OF THE ENDING OF THIS BOOK, I am just going to say, read this. Yes, you will end up like me, wondering why life is so cruel, why all authors seems to possess a need to punish their readers with torturous cliffhangers, but trust me, it will be worth it.

I love the characters in this series. Let’s start with Kell. He was going through a lot in this book. And he SO obviously missed Lila and it was adorable and yet so sad and his relationship with Rhy was rocky because of the events of the last book and what they really needed was just to argue and let it all out, but they both were bottling up their feelings and ugghh it was so painful. I mean not all the time, because they were still the awesomest of brothers and there were a lot of funny scenes, but you get what I’m saying. I loved Rhy too and he spent a lot of this book feeling out of place and upset and I just wanted everyone to be happy, and they weren’t! And I wanted Kell and Lila to see each other again and it took so long to happen but when it did…just give me the next book, okay.

Lila, I mean. She stole a ship within the first few pages of this book, I don’t think it’s possible to not like her. Her sense of humour was in tact and she was making good on her promise to explore the world. She was reckless at times, but that's just Lila for you. Her relationship with Alucard was something. I didn’t like Alucard at first but, while he was still completely untrustworthy by the end of the book, he grew on me. A lot. And I am SO intrigued to find out what exactly happened between him and Rhy because Kell hated his guts, so he must have done something awful.

And another thing, even though this book had alternative POVs (which, if you know me, you will know I am not a fan of), I actually enjoyed both equally and didn’t spend my time waiting to get back to one person, like I normally do. I loved the world Victoria Schwab had built here and I was just happy to see any of it, with anyone.

In regard to the villain of this book, I must venture into spoiler territory to express my feelings, so, highlight to read: Goddamn Holland. I hated him and his stupid collars and WHY DID HE HAVE TO RUIN EVERYTHING. THE ENDING. THE ENDING! (end of spoiler). Also, Kell/Rhy’s parents sucked.

Overall, this book was excellent, but the ending was so cliffhangery that it was more like a mountainhanger and I am not over it, even though I read it months ago. So yeah.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Get Hamilton Out of My Head

Seriously. Every single day I wake up with a Hamilton song in my head. At work, I absentmindedly hum to it. Sometimes I actually sing and get weird looks from colleagues who have no idea why I've suddenly burst into "Eliza, I'm looking for a mind at work, work". I mean, if I were them, and didn't know what Hamilton was, I would just be like, "who the hell is Eliza?"

IT'S BECOME A SERIOUS PROBLEM. One time, I listened to Satisfied like, 30 times, on a loop. I mouth the words on the TUBE. The tube! WHY. Everyone stares. But I can't help it. And I think about the lyrics too much. Like in Take a Break. That comma in the middle of a phrase. It changed the meaning. DID HE INTEND THIS?


(I haven't slept properly in a week, don't judge my fragile mind right now.)

In any case, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, Hamilton is a musical. A few months ago I listened to the soundtrack and have since been lost in endless replays of all the songs. It's currently only showing in New York at the moment (I think? Correct me if I'm wrong) but I heard it's coming to the UK in 2017 and you can bet that I will be going to see it. If only to finally get the damn songs out of my head, once and for all! In my head every second I'm alive, ugh.

Sometimes I'll just be answering emails, you know, innocently preparing some report or other and then bam, instead of focussing on whatever crappy vlookup I'm supposed to be doing, I get a random burst of "Angelica...Eliza, and PEGGY" in my head.

You think this is a joke, the amount of times I have actually said "and PEGGY" randomly would shock you. My colleagues think I'm super weird and I do not blame them.

I have tried listening to other songs to stop this from happening, but Hamilton always sneaks back in. Oceans rise, empires fall, AND HAMILTON IS ALWAYS IN MY HEAD.

I am starting to think it'll will be there forever. Which is embarrassing, because I really, really cannot sing. But I sing a lot. And I get really into singing. To the point where I accidentally knock into things. Like tables. And cupboard doors that I forget to close after getting myself a snack, leaving me with red marks on my forehead like a total idiot. Ahh at least no-one else was in the room where it happened.

(Make it stop.)