Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Publisher: Amulet Books
Released: 2nd May 2017
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.
(from Goodreads)

I absolutely loved this book. I was really in the mood for a great contemp and it was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Jordan was such a fantastic main character. Words can’t express how much I loved her. I literally related to her in the very first line of the book – I pretty much have an existential crisis every Monday morning. As an Alto 2, Jordan kept getting rejected from parts in musicals for not having a conventional female vocal range. She also had a lot of other things going on; her mum and dad (who suffered from chronic pain) were having money troubles that were inevitably affecting her and making her feel guilty and she was still getting over her ex-boyfriend while also trying figure out whether she was attracted to girls as well as guys. She felt friendless at her school and didn’t really have anyone to turn to. Apart from the fact that I really appreciated being able to read about a Chinese-American bisexual character, Jordan was so likeable. Her narrative was hilarious, her voice was so believable and I really liked how dedicated she was to her craft. So determined was she to do something instead of mope around, miserable that she’d failed another audition, she dressed up as a boy and joined an all-male a cappella group. After all, what did she have to lose except her dignity? There was a bit of suspension of disbelief involved there, but honestly, it was so funny because even Jordan was questioning how everyone was buying her charade and it just made me smile.

I can’t tell you how much I loved Jordan’s friendship with all the boys in the Sharpshooters. First we had Trav, the leader of the group, and most mysterious. I wish we had got to know him more, but he was the sort of quietly loyal type – prone to frustrated outbursts, but a good guy inside. Next we had Isaac who I adored. He was both adventurous and reckless and yet intensely shy and uncertain at times. I loved his relationship with Jordan the most and he was so sweet and understanding. I liked that things weren’t all cool and calm between them, there was awkwardness, but also an excitement on what could be. Thirdly, we had Nihal, who was another of my favourites. His and Jordan’s friendship was so natural and easy, and I really liked the side story about Nihal’s own relationship with a certain member of the Minuets, another a cappella group (whose character I was really hoping would develop, but alas, it did not. I would have liked more resolution on it). Then there was Jon Cox and Mama, who were both hilarious and loyal and kind of the backbone of the group, the reliable ones you know would always be there. Erik and Marcus were newbies to the team, too, freshman who had to acclimate to the group dynamic like Jordan did. Marcus’s rants about politics always made me laugh and essentially, I just really liked all these characters. I apologise because I have gone on far too long.

Plot-wise, Noteworthy is quite slow-paced, with much of the story involving the Sharpshooters’ rivalry with the Minuets, preparing for a competition in December and Jordan coping with being a girl during the day and putting on her boy persona at night during rehearsals. But there were lots of other things going on too, and in my opinion, even though this wasn’t an action-packed fast paced book with tons of twists and turns, there was never a dull moment. It explored lots of different themes really well, including sexuality and gender, and I only wish it were a bit longer, because I would have loved to have seen what happened after the ending! (But this is what happens with all good books.) I loved all the performing arts parts of the book and learning about music and theatre (even if I wasn’t quite familiar with all the technical terms). There were a few things I think could have been developed or explained a bit more (the whole situation with Connor and his father, for one), but overall, this was a fantastic book with an amazing set of complex characters, and I am so happy that I got to read it.

Overall, Noteworthy is a real stand-out contemp, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

April Wrap-Up

Books I Read This Month

Dream Magic by Joshua Khan
Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate*
Waiting for Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill
Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts*
The Battlemage by Taran Matharu*
Geekerella by Ashley Poston

All links lead to Goodreads. Reviews to come for starred books! I had a better reading month in April, I managed to read eight books, with a mix of genres! Noteworthy was my favourite book of the month, I absolutely loved it. My review will be coming soon - honestly, if you like contemps and have any kind of interest in music or musical theatre, I would highly recommend this one. And Waiting for Callback was a freebie from Amazon (it's back to full price now sadly).

Blog Posts


TV Shows I Watched/Started:

Supergirl season 2 (currently airing on Sky1)
The Flash season 3 (currently airing Sky1)
Legends of Tomorrow season 2 (Sky1)
Scorpion season 3 (currently airing on ITV2)
Emerald City (5STAR)
The Magicians season 2 (currently airing on 5STAR)
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD season 4 (currently airing E4)
Riverdale (weekly on Netflix)
The Middle (currently airing on Comedy Central)
12 Monkeys season 2 (Netflix)
Designated Survivor (weekly on Netflix)
The 100 season 4 (currently airing on E4)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer top 20 episodes (Syfy Buffy anniversary weekend)
Attach on Titan season 2 (weekly on Crunchyroll)
Anonymous Noise (weekly on Crunchyroll)

The 100 is finally here in the UK! Liking it so far buut I have some reservations about where they're going with this storyline. I'll have to wait and see. It was also super fun to rewatch my favourite Buffy episodes! It was something Syfy did for the 20 year anniversary, and all my favourites were on there (Once More, with Feeling was obviously number 1).

12 Monkeys season 2 was also added to Netflix, and I really enjoyed it. Very excited to start on season 3, which I believe is starting in May!

Films I Watched

Beauty and the Beast (2017)
The Addams Family
Addams Family Values

So...I wasn't a fan of Beauty and the Beast. I was really unimpressed by the new songs, the singing in general was blah and I just thought everything was a bit lacklustre. Also, when the Beast transformed into a Prince and there was that dancing scene at the end, I swear to you the only thing I could concentrate on was his shoes. Did you see his shoes?! Those blue monstrosities! I mean I KNOW it was the era and everyone wore shoes like that but I couldn't look away...

Music I Listened to

Once More, with Feeling soundtrack
Dear Evan Hansen 

I'm sure there was more, but I've forgotten because Dear Evan Hansen took over this month. THIS MUSICAL. I can't explain it, but please look it up because it's fantastic. My favourite song so far is Waving Through a Window.


Notable Events

I may or may not have gone on a shopping spree...I really needed some smarter clothes but I think I bought more than I needed. And now I'm broke hahaha...ha. Apart from that, I haven't done too much this month! The only other thing really is that my dad and I have been clearing out the smallest bedroom in our house (which is currently full of crap like old clothes, boxes, broken appliances etc.) because we're planning to build loads of shelves so I FINALLY have a place for all my books. It's a tiny tiny little box room with just enough space for a bed and a wardrobe (and it was my bedroom for 21 years...I don't miss it), so I'm not having delusions of grandeur or anything, but I am excited to have a sort of mini library for all my books.

And that is my month in a nutshell! I'm hoping to keep up the reading in May, and there are reviews to come, so hopefully you'll be seeing a few more blog posts next month as well.

What are your bookish (and non-bookish) goals for next month?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #80


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Never Say Die (Alex Rider #11) by Anthony Horowitz
1st June 2017
Find it on Goodreads
Following the events of Scorpia Rising, Alex relocates to San Francisco as he slowly recovers from the tragic death of his best friend and caregiver, Jack Starbright, at the hands of terrorists working for SCORPIA. With Jack gone, Alex feels lost and alone, but then, out of the blue, he receives a cryptic email--just three words long, but enough to make Alex believe that Jack may be alive. Armed with this shred of hope, Alex boards a flight bound for Egypt and embarks on a dubious quest to track Jack down.

Yet SCORPIA knows Alex's weakness. And the question of whether Jack is alive soon takes a backseat to a chilling new terrorist plot-one that will determine the lives of many.
From Egypt to France to Wales, from luxury yachts to abandoned coal mines, Alex traverses a minefield of dangers and cryptic clues as he fights to discover the truth. The #1 New York Times bestselling series, perfect for fans of James Bond, Jason Steed and Jason Bourne, is back with a vengeance! (f
rom Goodreads)

I am RIDICULOUSLY excited for this book. I was the biggest Alex Rider fan when I was younger, and I am so happy there's going to be another book in the series! The way the last book ended was kind of sad and I always felt everything wasn't fully resolved, so I'm really glad we get to see Alex again and find out what he's been up to. Plus, Jack might be alive?! I hope she is, because I was devastated when she died in Scorpia Rising. In any case, I need this book. I'm looking forward to seeing how Alex is faring in San Francisco (and living with Sabina?! I always thought that was a bit weird). I'm also curious as to what Mrs Jones's role in this will be, because it's going to be so awkward when (I'm assuming when) she gets in touch with Alex again... I must admit, while I am immensely excited for this book, I am also a bit worried it will ruin the series. Will just have to keep hoping it will be as good as all the others - not long to wait now!

What are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Review: The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari

The Best Kind of Magic (Windy City Magic #1) by Crystal Cestari
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Released: 16th May 2017
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate.

Amber works at her mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match?
(from Goodreads)

This book was so cute, I really loved it. It had a little bit of a shaky start, but after a few chapters, I was fully engrossed, and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.

Amber was a fab main character. Apart from being really funny, she was very relatable. As a matchmaker, she was often looked down upon for not being a “proper” witch. It wasn’t that she wasn’t powerful and good at what she did, but rather that what she did was very specific, and didn’t have many other applications. The other witches viewed her as not really one of them, and Amber often felt left out because she wasn’t allowed to attend coven meetings or really know what was going on in the witchy world. Sometimes she thought her own mother wished she could be different and carry on the family tradition, and I could really sympathise with her. That being said, she was a top notch matchmaker, and seemed to know a lot about the supernatural world. Amber could be a little judgmental at times, but she had a tough time at school and I could understand why she acted that way. I also found myself deeply relating to her on a person level when she was talking about group projects – they really are the worst.

Amani was another great character! She was Amber’s best friend and I really believed their relationship. Amani was very funny too, and she knew that Amber often felt like she wasn’t good enough because she was “only” a matchmaker, and did her best to be there for her. She was often a bit on edge when it came to her precognition though, and I would definitely love to see more of that in the next book, and get to explore her power a bit. It was interesting, and the way she never wanted to reveal anything about Amber’s future had me curious. And her reaction to Vincent! I am very intrigued to see what happens there (is there hope yet?).

Charlie was really lovely, and I very much enjoyed seeing his relationship with Amber develop. He originally approached her for help finding his missing stepmother, but as he became more acquainted with the supernatural world, he and Amber got a lot closer, and it was so cute! I do wish we had found out a little bit more about him (maybe in the next book) but overall, I liked him. He was sweet and had a lot of great lines that made me smile and laugh. I could completely understand Amber’s struggle in regard to her feelings for him – he wasn’t her match, and her whole business was finding people their matches. She kept thinking that surely she would be a fraud, a terrible person for being with Charlie when she knew some other girl was really the one for him? It was a difficult situation to be in!

Plot-wise, this book started off a little slow, and the writing was kind of cheesy to begin with, but as I said, a few chapters in and I was really engaged. I loved exploring Amber’s supernatural world and seeing how she used her matchmaking power. I actually wish this had been explored a little more, because I wasn’t a 100% sure how Amber’s powers worked (but then, neither did she!) and it was strange that she was still putting so much stock in who was and wasn’t a match when she was in such a tangled situation herself. However, I know this is a series (and I am very glad), so hopefully we’ll get some more answers in book two (especially after Kim joined the mix! Kim! And what did the Fate guy mean?! So many questions!). I am personally hoping the next book will be from Amber’s POV again, just because I really enjoyed her narrative, but I’ll still be reading it even if it’s not!

Overall this was a very fun, very adorable read, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something fairly light-hearted with a bit of magic. Now to wait for book two!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Blog Tour: Review of Dream Magic by Joshua Khan

Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Dream Magic blog tour. Dream Magic is the sequel to Joshua Khan's middle grade fantasy, Shadow Magic, and contains zombies, ghosts, a gigantic flying bat and lots of magic. If that doesn't appeal to you, I don't know what will! Please see my review of Dream Magic below.

---

Dream Magic (Shadow Magic #2) by Joshua Khan
Publisher: Scholastic
Released: 6th April 2017
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
In a world ruled by six ancient Houses of Magic, a girl and a boy begin an epic and dangerous journey of discovery...

Lilith Shadow, princess of darkness, is struggling with her growing powers. Castle Gloom is filling with ghosts, zombies roam the country and people throughout Gehenna are disappearing. Then Lily is attacked in her own castle by a mysterious sorcerer known as Dreamweaver and his army of jewel-spiders whose bites send victims to sleep. Thorn, and his giant bat Hades, must save Lily from the realm of sleep and help her overcome the evil Dreamweaver in order for her to reclaim her kingdom. 
(from Goodreads)

After enjoying Shadow Magic, I was excited to start reading Dream Magic, and wasn’t disappointed! It was a fun and action-packed read that will appeal to fantasy fans of all ages.

In Dream Magic, the dead just weren’t staying dead, and Gehenna was overrun by zombies and ghosts and vampires while living people were disappering. Necromancy was the magic of the Shadows – but as Lily was a girl, she wasn’t supposed to have magic. The fact that she did – and that she was a powerful witch at that – initially terrified people, and Lily didn’t really know what to do. She didn’t enjoy ruling, it wasn’t supposed to be her job, but after the death of her parents and her brother, she was the only Shadow left. She had enough problems without some strange dream magic infecting her people; she was only thirteen and she was dealing with so much! All while keeping her great sense of humour too. I liked Lily because she wasn’t your typical ruler – she was nothing like Gabriel (who returned in this book – with no improvement to his personality) and was more concerned with doing what she thought was right than keeping up her appearances. She was also a strong witch and quite clever, and while she might not have liked ruling, I think she was actually well-suited to it.

Thorn was continuing his work as a squire, though he wasn’t seeing much of Tyburn or Lily these days. His only constant companion was his pet bat Hades (whom I adored). Of course, things never stayed calm in Gehenna, and Thorn managed to get involved in trying to solve the dream magic mystery with Lily. Lily and Thorn got closer in this book, which was nice to see, and I liked that Thorn was becoming more confident in himself within Gehenna. It wasn’t a place he was used to, and he knew that as a squire, no matter how many heroic deeds he did, he’d never truly be recognised for them. But even so, he didn’t care, and continued to do what he could to help people. He was also a lot cleverer than people thought, and I liked that he was always proving those who underestimated him wrong. I did miss Tyburn in this book, and would have liked to have seen his relationship with Thorn develop a bit more, but I’m sure that will be explored more in book three.

Plot-wise, there were a lot of twists and turns in this book and I really enjoyed reading about dream magic and the Dreamweaver. The illustrations were a nice touch and I felt they really added to the story. The jewel spiders made me shudder – I hate spiders of all kinds, jewelled or not – and was creeped out every time they popped up! I also liked how the book touched on morality, and whether something bad can be justified if it’s for the good of everyone else. Things weren’t always clear-cut, and while this book didn’t go into detail on the topic, it was interesting to see it discussed. I’m really intrigued by how Lily’s relationship with her father’s ghost will change after the revelations of this book, and look forward to book three!

Overall, Dream Magic was a really enjoyable sequel to Shadow Magic, and I’ll be continuing this series to find out what happens next.

---

Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.

*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.
(from Scholastic)

Website: http://www.joshuakhan.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/writerjoshkhan


Many thanks to Faye and Scholastic for letting me take part in this blog tour! Don't forget to visit the next stop tomorrow at Bart's Bookshelf.

Friday, 31 March 2017

March Wrap-Up

Books I Read This Month:

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell*

All links lead to Goodreads. Reviews to come for starred books! I didn't have a great reading month in March, I only read six books (and literally all of them were fantasy, so you can tell what kind of mood I was in). The Song Rising was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it was definitely worth the (loooong) wait! I also really liked Daughter of the Pirate King, and I'm glad we're getting a sequel.

Blog Posts:


I had a bit of a crappy blogging month too - March generally hasn't been good for me. I've not been well, and I've also just been feeling a bit unmotivated - I've been job-hunting for a while now with no luck, which isn't fun, and coupled with being ill, it's made for a bit of a rubbish month!

TV Shows I Watched/Started:

Supergirl season 2 (currently airing on Sky1)
The Flash season 3 (currently airing Sky1)
Legends of Tomorrow season 2 (currently airing on Sky1)
Scorpion season 3 (currently airing on ITV2)
Timeless (E4)
Emerald City (currently airing on 5STAR)
The Magicians season 2 (currently airing on 5STAR)
Shadowhunters season 2 (mid-season break, Netflix)
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD season 4 (currently airing E4)
Legion (FOX)
Riverdale (weekly on Netflix)
The Middle (currently airing on Comedy Central)
12 Monkeys season 1 (Netflix)
Killjoys season 1 (Netflix)
The Replacement (BBC1)
BoJack Horseman seasons 1-3 (Netflix)
Designated Survivor (weekly on Netflix)

So all my usual things with a few new shows. I really enjoyed 12 Monkeys and hope Netflix gets season 2 soon! Killjoys was decent, though way overacted at points. The Replacement had a really disappointing finale and words can't really describe BoJack Horseman... The musical episode of The Flash was pretty cool, but had a weak plot, and I have gotten really into Designated Survivor.

I did attempt to watch Iron Fist but it was so awful, and after reading all the reviews, I thought it wasn't worth even trying to finish it. I also started Big Little Lies but couldn't get into it. In good news, however, we are FINALLY getting season 4 of The 100 in the UK! It starts next week, yay!

Films I Watched:

Back to the Future parts I & II (I have lost count how many times I've seen these)
Cinderella (2014)
Doctor Strange
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Music I Listened to:

So. Much. Disney
The Maine, old and new (in particular, Diet Soda Society and Black Butterflies & Déjà Vu)
All the songs from the musical episode of Buffy, "Once More, with Feeling"
Hamilton
Ruelle
One Day More - Les Mis
Anime openings (the Yuri on Ice song though?!)
Songs from all the A Very Potter Musicals
At Least it Was Here - The 88 (the Community opening theme song)

Notable Events:

For my birthday last month, my brother and his fiancée got me tickets to a double feature marathon of Back to the Future parts I & II (Back to the Future being my favourite film of all time) at the Prince Charles Cinema, which was so awesome! The Prince Charles Cinema is a really relaxed cinema where you can bring your own food, sit in comfy seats and bring blankets and whatnot. The screen has a curtain like at an actual theatre and it was generally a really cool place to watch the films - especially since everyone else there obviously also also loved Back to the Future.

And that is my month in a nutshell! I really want to read more in April because I have so many books to get through. I'm also taking part in a blog tour for the second book in the Shadow Magic series by Joshua Khan if you're interested - my post will be up Saturday 8th April! More info on the blog tour banner at the bottom of the sidebar.

Also if anyone wants to hire me...I mean, I have a Law degree. And a year's experience in a really busy office. I analysed data and everything...

What are your bookish (and non-bookish) goals for next month?

Friday, 24 March 2017

Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Released: 7th March 2017
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.
(from Goodreads)

The Bone Witch suffered from a few cliché tropes here and there but overall, I quite enjoyed it. It’s not the best fantasy book I’ve ever read, but I would be interested in reading the sequel.

Tea was a fairly likeable main character. Okay, at times she was a bit boring and a stereotypical overpowered heroine dithering over what to do, but I was really intrigued by her story, and how she ended up having a black heartglass in present day. We got a few hints (the chapters were set up in a way where bits from the present day were matched with what was happening in past – think The Name of the Wind) but a lot was still left a mystery, and I do want to find out what exactly happened. For example, Tea stated that she had visited the Oracle 28 times, but we only saw a handful of visits in the book. I am wondering when the rest occur (and why!), because there isn’t that much of a time gap between the present day and the story from the past.

I have to say I wasn’t a fan of the romance, but luckily, there wasn’t much of it. There was a hint of a love triangle with Prince Kance and his cousin? Guard? (I have honestly forgotten his name), but I wasn’t really interested. I’d rather have learnt more about heartglasses. The whole idea of giving your heartglass to someone else if you loved them seemed entirely too risky to me, especially since there wasn’t really a benefit, and I would have liked to have learn more about this practice, as well as more about heartglasses in general and the different colours they could be.

Plot-wise, admittedly, not a lot happened. As I said before, the book was split with some scenes from present day, and some in the past, and I was reading mostly for clues as to how Tea changed from a seemingly innocent girl who was just trying to bring back her brother, to a killer who had no qualms about hurting people. Present day Tea was a lot more interesting that past Tea but we didn’t know what caused her to become that way or how things changed so drastically. Not a lot actually happened in the past scenes to show why this occurred, but there were some signs that got me interested. While I had a lot of issues with the pacing of this book and some of the characterisation, I think I’ll read the next one purely because I want to know what happens to Tea to change her so much.

Overall, this was a fun read to pass the time, and while it had its issues, if you like this sort of split narrative with a continuing mystery, you may enjoy this book.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Review: The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 2nd March 2017
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix’s existence—and Nix’s future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father?

Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices. Heidi Heilig weaves fantasy, history, and romance together to tackle questions of free will, fate, and what it means to love another person.
(from Goodreads)

While I did enjoy The Ship Beyond Time overall, I have to admit that at times, I found it confusing and a bit difficult to follow. As a result, I don’t think it was as good as The Girl from Everywhere, but I have liked reading this series as a whole and would still recommend it to fans of time travel and adventures on ships.

Nix was one of the reasons I kept on with this book even when I found it a bit unclear at times. I really liked her character, and her relationship with her father was very interesting in this book. In book one, I really didn’t like Slate, and to be honest, I still wasn’t his biggest fan in this book either, but I did like seeing how the relationship between father and daughter had changed and how Nix was adapting to this. One thing that I will point out is that I predicted the meaning of Joss’s fortune (Nix losing the one she loves) from the start, so the ending wasn’t really a surprise to me. While this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book as a whole, I did kind of spend the whole time waiting for Nix to realise what was going to happen.

Kashmir got his own point of view in this book, and while it was nice to see from his POV, I felt his character wasn’t really as developed as he could be. I really wanted to know more about Kashmir but I felt like this book was all about his relationship with Nix and whether or not he could be saved and I don’t know. He got a bit cheesy at times, and I would have loved to explore his backstory more and what that meant in relation to his feelings for Nix (he touched on this in his own chapters, expressing his concerns about it, but I would have liked more detail). He was a great character though, and continued to be that voice of reason who always offered good advice.

Blake was Blake. I didn’t really like him in the first book, and I didn’t much like him in this book either. I understood why he was there though, and it was actually a bit sad to see that he was really similar to Nix and they could have been close friends in another life, if things had been different.

Plot-wise, this is where I was confused. I really struggled with the mythical places and travelling there by map, the whole Ancient Greece debacle, how they somehow managed to change the past but people retained memories in dreams (and there were all these alternate universes they could see in dreams - what?! This never came up in the first book!) and how [spoiler, highlight to read]Nix’s mother was somehow saved with no consequences. How? Plus, whatever happened to Dahut? I liked her[end of spoiler]. Navigation was also never fully explained and in the end I was just reading without understanding because I was too confused by it all. I doubt everyone will have the same problem, but I’ve always needed really clear explanations when it comes to books like this; I don’t like being forced to fill in blanks myself or pick up on really subtle hints or metaphors or whatever. It gets lost on me. I also found the ending a bit abrupt, especially since there’s not going to be another book.

Overall, while I did like this book, I did have a few problems with it. It’s a good read to pass the time, but I found it too confusing to fully appreciate (perhaps if I were more familiar with the myths in question, I’d be less puzzled by everything).

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Confession: I Like Spoilers

I've been blogging for almost seven years now, and I think it's about time I shared one of my deepest, darkest secrets: I like spoilers. I know. I am a terrible person. I scroll through Tumblr and Twitter and Goodreads, actively trying to find spoilers for books.

It's now gotten to the point where, for some (not all) books, I go through spoilers first, and then decide whether to read the book or not. It's kind of ridiculous, but I think it's because I have found so many books disappointing (especially last books in series - I have so many unfinished series right now) that at this stage, I'd rather not waste my time on a book if I know I really really won't like what happens/how it ends.

So, yes. I go looking for spoilers, and I get really annoyed when I can't find any. I want to know if my ship is endgame, damn it! I want to know if a stupid love triangle is going to be introduced! I want to know if the main characters die! Because if I don't know, I'm not prepared, and I'll end up being hugely disappointed if the book takes a route I reeeally don't want it to take. I rarely ever pick up a book without doing thorough research on it first. I will very occasionally, or if I really like the author, but in general, I look into every book beforehand. And I am very reliant on reviews. I will read dozens before I decide on which book to pick up. If it's a series, and I'm waiting for a new book to be released, I'll generally buy the book on release day unless there are already reviews out that convince me otherwise (yes, I will even abandon a series I am highly invested in if I don't like what the spoilers tell me. Doesn't happen often, and doesn't mean I won't ever pick it back up again, but I am not truly loyal to anything. Does this make me a terrible human being? Probably).

Basically, I have trust issues, and I hate being unexpectedly disappointed. If I KNOW I'll be disappointed, then I won't be as disappointed as if I hadn't known...you know?

Obviously, I do still pick up books I'm not certain I'll like, and sometimes I'll think they're rubbish, and sometimes I'll be pleasantly surprised. It's only when I'm very sure that I will really dislike a book that I let the spoilers prevent me from picking it up at all. Usually, I just read the spoilers, and then prepare myself for what will happen (and it's mainly for already established series - I'm much less likely to search for spoilers for standalones or first books in series, and even if I do, I won't want as much depth as I would for series I've already started).

(I feel like I am really not explaining myself well.)

Also, I am just really impatient. I want to know what happens and I can't actually wait until I read the book. And it's not just books! It's TV shows and films as well. For example, we don't get season 4 of The 100 in the UK for another few months. But I can't NOT know what's happening...so I just read all the recaps media outlets post after the episodes air in the US. Keeps me going until I can actually watch the episodes myself.

I completely understand that a lot of people don't like spoilers and I of course wouldn't ever want to spoil anything for people who don't want to know (this is why you always need to tag your spoilers!). But I can't deny that I am a person who likes knowing things. I don't generally like surprises. I don't like being unprepared. And I am too curious to avoid searching for answers...

What are your thoughts on spoilers? Are you like me? Do you hate them? Did this post mortally offend you (I'm sorry!). I really hope I'm not alone in this...

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

February Wrap Up

Books I Read This Month:

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt
The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
The Next Together by Lauren James
The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari*
By Your Side by Kasie West
King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Broken Sky by L. A. Weatherly
Frostblood by Elly Blake*

All links lead to Goodreads. Reviews to come for starred books! I read eleven books in February, so I'm actually a bit ahead of my Goodreads challenge, which is nice! I read a lot of cute contemps this month; I think By Your Side was probably my favourite (it's Kasie West, and it's a book about two people locked in a library, what's not to like?). The Next Together was really disappointing because it started off fairly good and then just went downhill [spoiler, highlight to read]I remember basically cracking up laughing because a character randomly finds out she's pregnant, expresses no feelings on the matter and then gives birth like, five pages later because the plot just skips ahead. It was hilariously bad[end of spoiler] so I think that was probably my worst read of the month.

Blog Posts:


TV Shows I Watched/Started:

Supergirl season 2 (currently airing on Sky1)
The Flash season 3 (currently airing Sky1)
Legends of Tomorrow season 2 (currently airing on Sky1)
Scorpion season 3 (currently airing on ITV2)
Brookyln Nine-Nine season 4 (E4)
Timeless (currently airing on E4)
Emerald City (currently airing on 5STAR)
The Magicians season 2 (currently airing on 5STAR)
Shadowhunters season 2 (weekly on Netflix)
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD season 4 (currently airing E4)
Legion (currently airing on FOX)
Riverdale (weekly on Netflix)
Legend Quest (Netflix)

I'm still watching Riverdale. Mostly for Jughead, who is by far the best character (I am already so tired of Archie and his drama). Brookyln Nine-Nine is now on a mid-season break and isn't back until April (nooo) and I've started Emerald City and it's very...weird? Like, really weird. I don't know whether I like it or not. Legion is probably my favourite show at the moment, it's so good and I never have any idea what's going to happen!

Timeless has sort of grown on me over the past few weeks; it's still full of plot holes and time paradoxes, but I don't know, I kind of like it anyway. And while I'm glad we're getting the second season of The Magicians in the UK, I am so annoyed that season 4 of The 100 probably won't air until April/May time. WHY DO WE HAVE TO WAIT SO LONG? I read all the episode recaps because I have no willpower and need the spoilers. My biggest fear is that The 100 will be cancelled before Bellarke ever happens...

Films I Watched:

Tangled (for the billionth time)

Music I Listened to:

The Wicked soundtrack (For Good is still my favourite)
Bands from the early 2000s
Belle from Beauty and the Beast (preparing for the movie release - I am simultaneously excited and terrified)
StarKid musicals (especially Status Quo from Starship, and The Coolest Girl from A Very Potter Sequel - they have been stuck in my head!)
Kyle XY soundtrack (don't judge me okay, I am STILL upset that show was cancelled and ended on a cliffhanger)
Marceline singing the Mr Belvedere theme in Adventure Time (yep, that carried over from January, what can I say)
All those variations of All Star by Smashmouth, because I find them hilarious. My favourite is the one with Windows notifications...

Notable Events:

It's been quite a month. I mean, first of all, Philip Pullman just dropped on us that he's writing an ENTIRE NEW TRILOGY about Lyra. The first book is out in OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR. Were any of us expecting this?! I have been waiting for The Book of Dust for years, I thought at best it would be an encyclopaedia, but no, a WHOLE NEW TRILOGY. My blog post goes into more detail.

Next I found out there's going to be another book in the Alex Rider series and bigfhjdwv. I loved that series when I was younger. I was such a huge fan, I had NO IDEA there was going to be another book?! I only found at this month, and I am beyond excited. It's called Never Say Die and is out in June in the UK.

It was also my birthday this month, so among my presents were a few books (see below), and an Amazon gift card! I picked all the books myself; I was originally going to choose some different ones...but with the news about The Book of Dust, I decided it was high time I reread the His Dark Materials trilogy, so I chose a really beautiful gift bind up of all three books. I also couldn't resist Hamilton: The Revolution, especially since I'm actually going to see it soon!



Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter | His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman | Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen | Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan | Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

I have yet to spend the gift card, but I have my eye on a few books...

And that is my month in a nutshell! I have no idea what March will bring, but I'm hoping to keep up the reading, and blog consistently! What are your bookish (and non-bookish) goals for next month?

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Three Mini Reviews

The Infinite (Gates of Thread and Stone #2) by Lori M. Lee
Publisher: Skyscape
Released: March 10th 2015
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.

Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.


To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.


In this thrilling sequel to
Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known. (from Goodreads)

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and while this one was good, I didn’t like it quite as much. 

Kai was struggling with several things in this book; after the end of book one, she was feeling guilty and unsure of herself. There was also the fact that she couldn’t seem to use her powers, which was highly concerning. I so wanted her to tell someone but she wouldn’t and I was worrying the whole time what this would mean for. As the book went on, Kai became more assertive and I appreciated her character development.

Avan wasn’t in this book as much as, and when he was, he was very different (as to be expected after the end of book one). I wanted him to get his memories back so much, and even though I knew there would be a love triangle in this book (the typical “the first guy isn’t here so let’s give this other guy a chance”) I couldn't get behind it because I still remembered how Avan was in book one and couldn’t properly root for the other love interest (even though he was actually really nice).

I loved that we got to find out more about the world in this book, and explored different places. The writing was really engaging and I liked reading about the new characters that were introduced.

The ending was another huge cliffhanger and I have no idea if we’re getting a book three, so I am left with many, many questions. I really am hoping for another book, because I’ve enjoyed this series overall and would like to see how it all ends!

---

The Inquisition (Summoner #2) by Taran Matharu
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Released: May 5th 2016
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
On trial for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must face the Inquisition who will decide his future - the process is gruelling, lead by those who will do anything to see him suffer and haunted by ghosts from the past with clues to Fletcher's tragic origins.

But Fletcher has little time to dwell on these new revelations when the king announces a deadly challenge to the graduating students at Vocans. One that involves entering Orc territory to complete a risky mission. With loyal demons by their sides, commoners and nobles, dwarves and elves must overcome barriers of class and race and work together to triumph. The reward: a fortune in gold, the safety of an empire and PEACE.

With the entire empire watching, Fletcher has much to prove, but there are those out to get him and it soon becomes clear that there's a traitor in their midst, trying to thwart the mission and create unrest within the Empire.

With everything stacked against him, Fletcher must use everything in his power to fight his way to victory.
(from Goodreads)

This is another book that, while still good, I didn’t enjoy as much as the first in the series. I did really like seeing all the characters again and jumping back into the world, and it was great to learn more about the magic system, which is one of the main reasons these books are so appealing. At the same time, however I had a few issues. Mostly I was left a little confused at how some things occurred and I questioned the reason behind certain events [spoiler, highlight to view] I couldn’t get behind making Fletcher a noble, wasn’t the point that he didn’t have to be? To me, it kind of undermined the message of the last book, though that is of course just my opinion[end of spoiler]. I also wanted to spend more time at Vocans, but I could understand why this didn’t happen and there was a lot of other exciting stuff going on that made up for it. One thing I really would have liked to have seen was how Fletcher recovered; he spent a year locked up in a cell, isolated from the rest of the world, and yet he seemed to get over it pretty quickly. I wish we could have had more insight into his thoughts. I did like this book overall, though, the plot was interesting, and Fletcher was a compelling main character that you couldn’t help but root for. I will definitely be reading the next book, and look forward to finding out what will happen next!

---

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Released: March 24th 2016
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
10 parts 12 hours 1 minute

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.


At least, that’s what he thinks.


In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.


But no one gets what they want just by wishing.


As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
(from Goodreads)

The Winner’s Kiss was a really satisfying conclusion to the series, and I am very much looking forward to whatever Marie Rutkoski writes next.

If we were to compare the Kestrel and Arin from this book to the Kestrel and Arin in book one, the differences would obvious. The character development for these two has been excellent; in this book, they were older and wiser. They had both been through so much, and had both changed in different ways. Kestrel’s final confrontation with the emperor was one example of how she had grown. She had always had a brilliant mind but this just showed what she willing to do now that she wouldn’t have done before. Arin played an important role as well, he was less reckless, and I really enjoyed getting to know him more in this book. Their relationship was never going to be smooth sailing, but I liked that it wasn’t easy, that they had to work hard for it, and I actually really appreciated that we got a happily ever after, because these characters deserved to be happy! I would have been devastated if it ended any other way.

There were some intense twists in this book and I think I finished the whole thing in one day because I was desperate to find out what would happen. The writing was as compelling as ever and while I’m sad this series is over, I am now eagerly awaiting Marie Rutkoski's next book.