Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #65

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

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Released: August 27th 2015
Find it on Goodreads

What if you weren’t the Chosen One?

What if you’re not the one who’s so often the hero in YA fiction; who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions...
(from Goodreads)

I have never read a Patrick Ness book before (I know, I know, I'm terrible, I'm a disgrace to YA, blah blah) but I really love the sound of this book. I think it's something most people can relate to. I do love to read and escape the world, I do love going on adventures with superheroes, but in reality, I am never going to save the world the way characters in YA books do. Most of us won't. So the fact that this book is about that, about a character who is basically us, the regular person, caught up in the end of the world, just trying to get by in life, is something that really appeals to me. I'm interested to see how everything plays out and where this book leads.

What are you waiting on this week?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1) by Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: Orion
Released: February 12th 2015
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?
(from Goodreads)

I...loved this book. I don't even know how to write this review. It was just amazing. Go read it. Seriously. I haven't liked a book this much in a while.

So before I started this book, I was super, super excited for it. When I first read the summary I knew it was something I had to read, it just sounded awesome. So when I saw it on NetGalley I was SO happy, I requested it straight away and practically cried with joy when I was approved. So needless to say I had some high expectations, and honestly, I was not disappointed.

First of all, Mare was such a brilliant character. Half the reason this book was so good was because of Mare. She perhaps didn't stand out in a big way like other characters in popular YA, but I really do think the book wouldn't have been as good if Mare weren't the main character. I just loved her dry and sarcastic sense of humour, and the way the narration came across because of that - it was so witty at times! I liked the way she was always suspicious of the King and the Queen - she knew they could kill her at any time if they wanted and didn't trust the promises they offered. I also liked the fact that she was willing to risk so much for her family. I could sort of understand her feelings at the start; she was overshadowed by her younger sibling who was much more talented than she was and was the one the family was proud of, whereas Mare was always looked down upon for stealing, even though she was the only reason the family could afford to get by. But after everything that happened, Mare was willing to do whatever necessary to keep her family (and her friend) safe, even if it meant abiding by the King and Queen's rules. She lived in a cruel world and she knew she had limited options. Her powers were definitely interesting as well. They worked differently to regular Silver powers and I liked learning more about them through her lessons with Julian and also through her physical training. I do think the plan to pass Mare off as a Silver was very flawed - did they really expect the masses to believe this girl had never bled for 17 years? And she was at risk of bleeding and showing the true colour of her blood in training! But as the book went on it seemed to be less about making the people believe and more about keeping them quiet and you could tell there was definitely something sinister going on behind the scenes.

Regarding Maven and Cal - well I can't say much without spoiling the whole book. But for a lot of the book I was torn. I was suspicious of them both throughout - especially Maven, being the son of creepy mind-controlling Queen Elara and all - but at the same time, Victoria Aveyard managed to make me feel sorry for them both. Maven because, much like Mare, he was overshadowed by his brother; the Crown Prince who was better at everything, who was favoured by their father, who was the one who everybody loved, who was always chosen over him. He was bitter. And Cal, well Cal had no freedom. He was being forced to marry a woman he barely liked, he was always on show, always having to live up to his father's expectations. He didn't want revolution, he was too afraid of the war change might cause - and that was where he and Mare really differed (and I have to say I agreed with Mare. How could Cal possibly stand for the horrific injustices that occurred? How could he not want change if he disagreed with it so much?). He was sympathetic, but unwilling. Though I am intrigued to see if his mind will change in the next book. Mare clearly knew real suffering and didn't want to be part of such inequality. I don't know how much she influenced Cal, but I think out of the two, they had the best chemistry and I hope that Cal steps up because that's the only way I would like them to end up together. Ahhhh I honestly cannot wait for book two!

Plot-wise, I loved everything. Some parts were slightly predictable but I think you get that in every book. Red Queen differed from quite a few books in the sense that Mare actually played quite a direct role in the rebellion, as opposed to being a figurehead or motivational speaker or something. People died because of what Mare did, and even if it was for what she considered the greater good, even if she did regret it later, she had to live with that. I also liked the way certain actions affected Mare's relationships with some of the secondary characters (who were pretty much all fleshed out and not just random filler people), like Lucas (who I really liked) and Julian. And the ending, wow. Even though I was expecting something of the sort to happen, it was still thrilling and I could not stop reading. I finished this book at like, 2am, because I couldn't put it down. And after that ending, well. I just need the next book. I don't know how I'm going to wait, honestly.

I've probably missed out loads of things and I definitely haven't done this book justice, so all I can say to you is read it. Read this book. It is the best first book in a series that I have read in ages, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A Darker Shade of Magic Blog Tour: V. E. Schwab's Favourite Literary Villains

Hello everyone, and welcome to my stop on the A Darker Shade of Magic blog tour! Today I have V. E. Schwab (also known as Victoria Schwab) on the blog to talk about her favourite literary villains, so without further ado, here is her list!


Victoria's Favourite Literary Villains

*Cracks knuckles* My favorite kind of list.

1. The Thin Man from The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. Creepiest dude ever. Enough said.

2. Mr. Croup, Mr. Vandermar, and the Angel Islington from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I honestly couldn’t decide between the three, but Croup and Vandermar gave me the chills in the best way.

3. The Darkling from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Tall, dark, handsome, and evil. You really can’t fault me.

4. The Falconer from The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I love everything about this series. In fact, it, along with Sanderson’s Way of Kings are among the rare times I enjoy the heroes as much as the villains, but Lynch’s Falconer is one of my favorite villains: damaged, complicated, and vengeful.


There you have it! The only book I've read from that list is Shadow and Bone (I know, I'm terrible, but I have The Lies of Locke Lamora on my TBR pile) and I definitely agree with Victoria about The Darkling. 

I hope you've enjoyed my stop on the tour. Please see below for info about A Darker Shade of Magic and Victoria (seriously, if the synopsis and beautiful cover don't convince you to read this book, I can't help you). Also keep an eye out for my review which should be up fairly soon!

A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1) by V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Released: February 27th 2015
Find it on Goodreads

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.
(from Goodreads)

From Titan Books: V.E. Schwab is the bestselling author of Vicious, which was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2013, an Amazon Best Book of the Year (as well as Best Book of the Month), a semi-finalist in the Goodreads Choice 2013 Book Awards, and the ALA top pick for Fantasy for their 2014 reading list. It was also noted in various author best-of lists, from Laini Taylor to Chuck Wendig. She is also the author of The Near Witch, The Archived, and The Unbound.

Find Victoria:


Thank you for visiting my stop today. Don't forget to drop by So Many Books, So Little Time tomorrow for the next stop on the tour. Please see the blog tour banner on the sidebar for more details.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Blog Tour: Review of Jessica Cole: Model Spy - Code Red Lipstick by Sarah Sky

Code Red Lipstick (Jessica Cole: Model Spy #1) by Sarah Sky
Publisher: Scholastic
Released: June 5th 2014
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Models, spies and lipstick gadgets... When Jessica's father, a former spy, vanishes mysteriously, Jessica takes matters into her own hands. She's not just a daddy's girl who's good at striking a pose; she's a trained spook who knows how to take on MI6 and beat them at their own game. (from Goodreads)

I have always loved spy books and grew up with series like Alex Rider and the Gallagher Girls, so naturally I was very curious about Code Red Lipstick. After reading it, I can safely say that I really haven't changed at all - I still think spy books are awesome, and I will be looking forward to adding the rest of this series to my collection.

I really liked Jessica. She and her dad had a close relationship, which was nice to see, and he was the one who readied her for the world of spies. Her dad was ex-MI6 turned private investigator and he taught Jessica a lot about being covert and sneaking around as well as how to use a lot of his cool gadgets. When Jessica found out her dad was missing, her first thought was of course to find him. And while Jessica perhaps did seem a bit older than her age of fourteen, the way she used her surroundings and modelling to make it to Paris was well done and I liked that she had an actual plan of what she was going to do. She was determined to find her dad, no matter what, and she wasn't going to let any MI6 agents get in the way of that. It was admirable, though definitely reckless (a few of the scenes did push the limit of believability) but I have to say that Jessica was way more fearless than I would have been her situation. I did think she maybe didn't pick up on a few clues she really ought to have, but I guess she was so worried about her dad that a lot of the time she wasn't thinking properly about the things she'd seen and heard.

There wasn't much focus on secondary characters in this book, besides the agents Nathan and Margaret, who I'll talk about later. However, I did like Jessica's best friend Becky and I hope we get to explore her character a bit more in book two. Jamie was a potential love interest but Jessica was too busy trying to solve the mystery of  her father's whereabouts in this book to really concentrate on him (which I actually really liked because I think a romance would have ruined the plot at this point). It may be that he plays a larger role in the next book, so I am intrigued about that. In regard to Nathan and Margaret, [spoiler, highlight to read] I suspected Margaret from the start, she was way too accommodating and pushing Jessica towards Allegra who was obviously dodgy whereas Nathan seemed genuinely concerned [end of spoiler]. I think maybe Jessica should have realised what these characters' aims were, but as I said before, she was probably too worried about her dad to think about anything else. I do hope to see more of Nathan and Margaret in book two, especially after the ending, because it will be interesting to see how Jessica will act around each of them now she knows more than she did at the start of book one.

Plot-wise, I have read a LOT of spy books, so I did find a few things a bit predictable (e.g. the villain, the ending) but to be honest, it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book and a lot of the time I really didn't know where the story was going. I was pulled in from the beginning, which was a great way to start the story, and it was also fun to read about Jessica combining her model skills and her spying skills and seeing her snoop around to look for clues. I liked how things turned out and I am very excited to see what Jessica does in the next book. I really want to find out more about Sara as well, whose character was very briefly focussed on and yet managed to be one of the most interesting of the lot. This book actually reminded me a little bit of Miss Congeniality (in a good way, of course) but with younger characters, and I can see it making a good film.

Overall, I really enjoyed Code Red Lipstick, and I'm definitely looking forward to reading the sequels. Recommended to people who like spy books, especially if you're looking for something to fill the gap now that the Gallagher Girls series is over, but also to people who enjoyed Geek Girl, because the modelling aspects are similar.


Sarah Sky is the author of Scholastic's Jessica Cole: Model Spy series with Code Red Lipstick and Fashion Assassin. Catwalk Criminal is published in June 2015.

Sarah is a freelance education journalist and lives in West London with her husband and two young children.

She grew up in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, and studied English at Nottingham University before gaining a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University. 

She trained as a journalist at the Western Daily Press in Bristol. Her highlight was interviewing screen legend Charlton Heston and lowest point was being sneezed on by a cow at a fatstock competition.

Sarah worked as an education correspondent for a national newspaper before going freelance. She now divides her time between journalism and writing.

She loves reading, baking, table tennis and martial arts. She's a green belt in kick-boxing and a brown with two white stripes at karate, currently training for black.

Find Sarah:


Thanks for visiting my stop of the Jessica Cole: Model Spy review tour! Don't forget to visit tomorrow's stops at Tales of Yesterday, Blame My Bookshelf and Fiction Fascination. Please see the blog tour banner on the sidebar for more details

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #64

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

End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3) by Susan Ee
Released: May 12th 2015
Find it on Goodreads

After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?
(from Goodreads)

I did want to wait until the UK cover was revealed before posting this but I'm too impatient so it's going up now. I am so excited about this book. I loved the previous books in the series and oh my God, the characters. Penryn. Raffe. Penryn and Raffe TOGETHER. I am so looking forward to seeing them spend time together in this book seeing as they hardly saw each other in the last one. I just want them to be happy, is that too much to ask? I know it is, this book is bound to end in some devastating manner, but I can delude myself until then. And Paige. It will be definitely interesting to see if they can find someone who can reverse what happened to her but somehow I'm seriously doubting she'll ever go back to the way she was. Definitely want to see some more Paige/Penryn interaction though and find out how they're both coping with this change. But of course, Pooky Bear is who I am most looking forward to reading about again. I have grown attached. To a sword. That's how good Susan Ee is.

What are you waiting on this week?

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Review: Akarnae by Lynette Noni

Akarnae (The Medoran Chronicles #1) by Lynette Noni
Publisher: Pantera Press
Released: February 1st 2015
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

With just one step, sixteen-year-old Alexandra Jennings's world changes--literally.

Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities. Desperate to return home, she learns that only a man named Professor Marselle can help her... but he's missing.

While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora's boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of their own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can't ignore her fear that something unexpected... something sinister... is looming.

An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex's shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race's survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home? 

Will Alex risk her entire world--and maybe even her life--to save Medora? (from Goodreads)

I knew very little about Akarnae when I started it and while it had a bit of a shaky start, I ended up enjoying it a lot, and I'm excited to read the next book.

Alex was one of those characters you just had to like. The situations she found herself in sometimes were hilarious (the juice scene seriously had me cracking up). I loved that there was this running joke of her always ending up in the medical ward. She and the doctor always had the funniest conversations and it was awesome. I also really liked that Alex wasn't afraid to try new and scary things. While I do think she did perhaps adjusted to this alternate world she ended up in a bit too quickly (she wasn't scared or worried) and maybe made a few bad decisions along the way (general tip: don't reveal information to strangers who are obviously shady), she at least didn't spend the time moping about and actually tried to learn more about Medora and the things she was up against. She was determined and didn't give up during difficult tasks. It was definitely interesting to see that her potential in a lot of the classes she was taking was very high, and I'm hoping we get to see more of her training in the next book since that wasn't focussed on much in this one. I think her connection to the Library was also very cool and I really loved all the scenes that took place in the random parts of the Library. Very excited to see more of this and learn more about the connection in the next book. I did feel that Alex perhaps took a bit too long to figure out things that were very obvious sometimes, but that's pretty much the only thing that bothered me.

Jordan and Bear, Alex's best friends, were another great pair of characters. They definitely added more humour to the story, and I liked that the three of them always had each other's backs. The fact that Alex managed to find such loyal friends was really lucky I think, because without them, she probably would have enjoyed her time at Akarnae much less. It was interesting to learn a bit about Jordan's family as well, and the fact that he really did not get on with them, whereas Bear's family were quite the opposite and were a lovely caring bunch who embraced Alex's arrival. I'm hoping we'll get to see more of these family dynamics in book two and whether anything will change. DC, Alex's roommate, was a character I didn't like much at first, but who really grew on me by the end. She was very closed off and hostile at the beginning but she slowly began to trust and like Alex more and I really enjoyed seeing that character development and the friendship between them strengthen.

Plot-wise, I did enjoy everything that was happening, but found the writing a little bit weak to start with. There was a lot of repetition of the same words and phrases ("totally insane", for example) and an overuse of adverbs - generally the first few chapters just seemed a bit disjointed. It was difficult to really understand how Alex was feeling and a lot of things were just stated but not elaborated upon, like Alex's training. However, the writing did improve later on and was much better towards the end of the book. It was mostly just that beginning bit that I found to be a bit odd, so please don't let this put you off reading the book. The actual plot was definitely engaging and went in directions that I did not expect, especially with the Library (the fact that the Library is sentient and able to choose who can access it and who can't is just awesome). Alex really grew as a character as well and all the tasks and obstacles she faced prepared her for what happened in the end. And I really did appreciate the ending because it wasn't a huge torturous cliffhanger and yet at the same time still made me really want to read the next book. I am really looking forward to book two and finding out what happened in Alex's world while she was gone, as well as seeing how things are going to play out in Akarnae! I'm definitely intrigued to see the return of a few certain characters as well, especially the mysterious old lady from the bookshop who somehow seemed to know way more than she should have.

Overall, Akarnae was a really fun read and I recommend it, especially if you like stories set in alternate worlds.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter
Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: February 5th 2015
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay - in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.
(from Goodreads)

Ally Carter is just awesome. I've loved all her series so far, and All Fall Down is another great start to what looks like a promising new saga. It's perhaps not my favourite of her books (but the series do tend to get better as they go along) but it was definitely engrossing and I have to say I am very excited for the next book!

Grace was quite different from Cammie or Kat but I think she was a really good main character. It was easy to understand her frustrations and her rebellious behaviour. No-one believed her when she said her mother was murdered. No-one listened to her, no-one would investigate the incident, it was just chalked up to an accident. Grace was forced to talk to therapists and take medication and be told again and again that she was seeing things, that her mind was playing tricks on her because of the trauma she suffered. But Grace refused to believe that. She had been there, and she saw the gunshot wound, the blood, the man with the scar. Her mother was not killed in a fire, and she was determined to prove it. It was easy to sympathise with her. She was struggling so much, and half the time she didn't know what to do or how to convince everyone that she wasn't crazy. I think if she hadn't had her friends around her, things would have gone downhill very quickly. Somehow, without even asking, she had three new friends and a boy who always seemed to turn up in the most unexpected of places. I wish she had used technology to her advantage sometimes; using her phone to record/take pictures of what she was witnessing would have made persuading people a little easier. There were times where even I as the reader was questioning whether Grace was actually seeing what she thought she was. But in the end, it all led to the same thing.

I really liked the side characters in this book too. Noah, Grace's self-appointed best friend, was my favourite. He was so trusting and supporting of Grace. He didn't need to be convinced, he just went along with Grace's ideas because he really wanted to help her. I loved that there wasn't anything romantic between them either (Noah had a soft spot for Meghan); their friendship was enough and they made each other laugh and had each other's backs. Meghan was another great character because she persisted in trying to help Grace even when Grace was not being very nice to her (for reasons explained in the book, though I still felt bad for her at times). And Meghan, while not as open and easy-going type that as Noah, did kind things in her own way and ended up being a pretty loyal friend. Rosie was the youngest of the group, but probably the most excitable, and while I wish we had seen a bit more of her, I loved all the scenes she was in.

Alexei was the boy next door (next door being the Russian Embassy). He was a friend of Grace's brother, who had asked him to look after her, and was a bit of enigma. We didn't get to find out much about him, which was probably on purpose, though it was clear he cared about Grace. If you're looking for romance, there's hardly any in this book, but if anyone is going to be the love interest in the future, it will likely be Alexei. I was curious about him and the way he always managed to show up when Grace needed help, and while he isn't my favourite of Ally Carter's romantic leads (that title still goes to Zach, with Hale as a very close second) I definitely want to see more of him (especially after the way things ended).

Plot-wise, this book was probably one of Ally Carter's darkest books yet. The Gallagher Girls series did end up taking a pretty dark route as the books went on, but this series has started off darker still, and honestly, I kind of love it. There are so many possibilities and I'm really looking forward to see which way the story will go. There were a lot of things I didn't see coming in the book (I mean, I guessed but literally only ten minutes before the big reveal so that doesn't count) and after the ending, I don't even know what to expect. All I know is that I am very excited for the sequel!

Overall, All Fall Down was a fab book and I highly recommend it, especially if you're an Ally Carter fan (and if you haven't read any Ally Carter books yet, then you seriously need to fix that).