The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

The Smoke Thieves (The Smoke Thieves, #1)

Title: The Smoke Thieves
Author: Sally Green
Series: The Smoke Thieves #1
Publication:  May 3rd 2018 by Penguin
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Around the Year in 52 Books – A book featuring a murder

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

My Thoughts

I recieved this in my illumicrate about 6 months ago and have finally gotten around to reading it.

There are different points of view which the book flicks between: The Calidorian princess, Catherine. The Prince of Pitoria, Tzsayn. Catherine’s bodyguard, Ambrose. March, a servant to the prince who comes from a small area of land destroy by a war. Edyon, a thief whom March is searching for. And Tash, a thirteen year-old demon hunter.

Although the points of view were interesting (I particularly looked forward to Tash and Catherine’s) the book took a while to get going as it had to set each one up. I personally didn’t particularly enjoy March’s and for the most part of the book couldn’t see why he was even included but I’m sure he’ll play a much bigger role in books to come. I really wanted to know more about the demon smoke, especially with the title, but it took over half of the book before you really found out anything about it. Now that we have a grounding for each of the characters and they’re all in the same place, the second book may have more action and I may feel more for the characters. At the moment, I’m not feeling the chemistry or tention between some of the characters, and honestly wouldn’t even bat an eyelid at Ambrose being killed off.

The book is being sold as Game of Thrones for young readers. It’s no where near as complex or detailed as GoT and has far fewer points of view. It strongly reminded me of Morgan Rhode’s Falling Kingdom series with the points of view, arranged marriage between the two countries and ‘evil’ family members. I hope the next book in this series takes it own path and isn’t always in the two series’ shadows.

I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series.
My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

 

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Clean by Juno Dawson

Clean

Title: Clean
Author: Juno Dawson
Series: N/A
Publication:  April 5th 2018 by Quercus Children’s Books
Genre: YA

Around the Year in 52 Books – A book published in the last 3 years (2016, 2017, 2018) by an author you haven’t read before

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter … it’s liquid gold.

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all …

It’s a dirty business getting clean …

My Thoughts

This was so gripping I read it in one sitting.

It doesn’t hold back, tackling a range of subjects including drug addition, eating disorders, mental health, gender identity and friendship. It’s dark, humorous and gritty.

The story centres around Lexi, a Russian heiress, living in London. Her brother witnesses her downfall and takes her, against her will, to rehab. We follow her coming getting clean, coming to terms with her addiction and see how she got there.

Lexi isn’t always a likeable or relatable character. She’s rich, sharp, surrounded by toxic relationships which encourage her to make questionable decisions, and is determined. But as the story progresses she changes and grows and is a different person at the end of the story. It truly was wonderful to read.

The only thing I disliked about this book was the ending as it was too unrealistic and neat for my liking.

A brilliant read. This is definitely going to be in a lot of lists for top books of 2018.
My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
Publication:  2017 by Bloomsbury
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Around the Year in 52 Books – A book with a location in the title.

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

My Thoughts

This review was really hard to write. After the ending of ACoMaF I just had to pick this up and read it straight away. Although I enjoyed it, I had really high hopes for this book and came out feeling like this is the weakest of the 3 books. That’s not saying it’s bad, far from it, but the other two books had me reading at ridiculous times and for hours on end, squealing and fangirling. This book had me more thinking, get to the point!

I’m finally completing this review almost 2 months after reading the book. Every time I sat down to write it, it was hard to think of what to say that hadn’t already been said before. I also found that the more I thought about the book, the harder it was to focus on the things I enjoyed, it was so much easier to pull out the things I disliked.

I was put off of this book more than the others as it is so ruddy thick! I was really frustrated as within the first 100 pages Fayre is undercover, which was great, except she kept doing something and then explaining it. We as readers are not dumb, surprisingly enough we can figure out what she was doing and why without being spoon fed.

In this book we see a lot more characters introduced and more locations, as they go to the different courts. I loved seeing all the different courts and hearing the Bone Carver and Weaver’s back story. The characters are a definite strength in this book, and series as a whole. We get a lot more back story to the main characters, and I just love how she’s able to write about Feyre’s raw emotions such as struggling with PTSD.

However, with more characters and places came greater pacing issues. I feel this book could easily have been a third of a book smaller, especially if you removed all the unnecessary sex scenes. If I’m honest, I’m writing this review about 7 weeks after finishing the book and I’m having to look up what happened because a lot of  it was just that unmemorable.

Taking the series as a whole, it would definitely be a solid five star. I will definitely be re-reading it again the future and it will be very interesting to see how my opinion on it changes with the re-read. Especially for the first book, knowing what I know now…

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

Title: A Court of Mist and Fury
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Publication: 3th May 2016 by Bloomsbury
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Around the Year in 52 books challenge – A book with the letters A, T and Y in the title.

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My Thoughts

I purposely saved this book to be the first book I read in 2018. That was such a good choice because this book was brilliant. It was so good that I had to read ACoWaR straight away. I feel that this is the best book of the three, so far.

Although this book is classified YA, it wavers that line where I would be more inclined to remove it from that category and put it in full fledged fantasy.  There are a few sex scenes in the book, they’re not necessarily graphic but they’re pretty descriptive and may not be appropriate for young YA readers.

The book begins with Feyre back in the Spring Court preparing, but not really engaging, for her wedding to Tamlin. Although she made a bargain with Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, to spend one week with him a month, his has not called in on this yet. Feyre is withering away due to not eating, disturbed sleep full with nightmares about under the mountain and Tamlin being more overprotective than usual and leaving Feyre like a prisoner in her own home. As she walks down the isle, she is silently praying for help. Like an answer to her prayer, that is the momeny Rhysand decides to turn up and make Feyre hold up her end of their bargain.

Although some people may consider this a love triangle, I think this is probably more about Feyre growing as a person and deciding who she wants to be, not who she wants to be with. Feyre grows so much within this book, both personally and romantically. She not only learns about her newly acquired powers, she learns to read and write and becomes more confident and assurtive.

The characters are just wonderful in this book too. I didn’t feel there were too many and as we progressed we found out more about each one. I just love Mor.

And man, that ending!

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Image result for the handmaid's tale book

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Series: N/A
Publication: 18th April 2017 (First published 1985)
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian

Around the World in 52 books – A book with a chilling atmosphere.

My Thoughts (2)

(Goodreads)

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and literary tour de force.

My Thoughts

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

This book first came to my attention due to the TV series, which I heard was amazing. I caught one episode and really enjoyed it but missed the rest, so I thought I would read the book first then watch the show.

I thought the story was a really interesting concept and was really well done. It is written from Offred’s point of view, almsot like a verbal diary of Offred’s thoughts and ideas. This means the story can be somewhat disjointed and sometimes she say it’s not right and retells it differently. It jumps between the present, as a handmaid, and the past before the change of government, with her husband and daughter. I found there was a little bit too much of the past for my liking and they dragged on occasionally.

It was a very interesting and thought provoking read, although not always enjoyable. I would definitely recommend it.

My Thoughts (1)

4-stars

Parsnips, Buttered: How to win at modern life one email at a time by Joe Lycett

Title: Parsnips, Buttered: How to win at modern life one email at a time
Author: Joe Lycett
Series: N/A
Publication: 7th September 2017 by Hodder Paperbacks
Genre: Humour, Popular culture.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book in the middle of your TBR list.

My Thoughts (2)

Dear Reader,

Life is hard. We are a bombarded generation: Facebook, billboards, Twitter, Instagram, taxes, newspapers, watches monitoring our sleep, apps that read our pulse, terrorism. There’s such an onslaught to the senses these days it’s a marvel any of us manage to get out of bed. I love bed.

While we are overwhelmed and confused by the miasmic cloud of information, there are those that seek to take advantage: there are parking fines, hate Tweets, Nigerian email scams and Christmas newsletters from old school friends about their ugly kids. And just as we’re getting round to doing something about it, we’re distracted again.

I, Joe Lycett, comedian, wordsmith, and professional complainer, am here to help. During my short life of doing largely nothing I’ve discovered solutions to many of life’s problems, which I impart to you, dear Reader. Containing a centurion of complaint letters to unsuspecting celebrities, companies and anyone brave enough to clog up my phone, as well as illustrations, one-liners , jokes and life hacks, this little gem offers you a collection of tips and advice* for all manner of modern woe. By the time you have finished reading this book you will have learnt how to:

– Reverse a parking fine 
– Manipulate the tabloid press 
– Navigate social media 
– Respond to hate mail 
– Out-weird internet trolls 
– Contest a so-called ripe avocado 
– Send the perfect Christmas newsletter 
– Defeat ISIS 
– Take down multi-national companies 
AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!

Joe Lycett x

* If you are looking for guidance with taxes, quitting smoking, moving house, love, divorce, education, healthcare or anything actually important may I recommend speaking to friends or family members and not consulting a book by a comedian who eats halloumi at least twice a day.

My Thoughts

Oh my! What a treat this book is.

If you haven’t heard of Joe Lycett, turn on a panel show – you’ll probably see him. If not, here’s a link of him doing some comedy which ties in with this book.

Joe loves writing complaints. So much so, that he has created different aliases to write complaints from. He’s managed to get out of parking fines with solid evidence that as parked on the moon, wind up mangers with pictures of a missing cat (it’s a fox), helped Waitrose improve their pork and Brambley apple sausage roles, and provided the world with some truly inspirational quotes.

Sometimes the self-service is no quicker than the normal checkout.

Follow your own path.

Don’t cry when it rains. The weather is weeping for us all.

Life is for the living. If you’re not living you’re dead.

I particularly enjoyed his selfies with celebrities, especially these ones (which I nabbed from Joe’s Twitter):

I also really enjoyed the little images at the end of each chapter. Some made me cackle.

Image result for joe lycett drawings

If you want a laugh, buy it! You won’t be disappointed.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

Graphic Novels Reviews: Saga and Fables

Saga, Vol. 1 (Saga, #1)

Title: Saga
Author: Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Series: Saga Vol. 1
Publication: 23rd October 2012 by Image Comics
Genre: Graphic novel, Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book recommended by one of your favourite authors.


 

The whole story centers around the question:

 photo IMG_4175_zpsswftkh6w.jpg

As it turns out, two soldiers, from opposite sides from a never ending war, who look like this:

 photo IMG_4177_zpszc5e9abc.jpg

This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever read but I completely loved it! The novel has amazing art and a really complex story. Plus it’s really funny. I found myself instantly in love with the two main characters – Alana and Marko – who clearly love each other and their baby daughter. They bicker. They support each other. And they’re sarky as hell.

I must admit, I was a bit worried when I was flicking through it in the shop and saw this: photo IMG_4179_zpsemqzyevd.jpg

and it has some strange things like these sex workers:

 photo IMG_4185_zps1aagekvu.jpg

But it was gripping and I just couldn’t put it down. To summarise, read it:

 photo IMG_4182_zpshpjd5hgd.jpg

5-stars

Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile (Fables, #1)Title: Fables :Legends in Exile
Author: Bill
Series: Fables Vol. 1
Publication: 25th April 2003
Genre: Graphic novel, Fantasy.


This book has an incredible premises; it is clearly where Once Upon A Time got some of it’s ideas. A savage creature conquers the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, forcing all the inhabitants into exile. Disguised among the “mundys” they are hiding in modern day New York. Vol. 1 focuses on finding out who has murdered Snow White’s sister, Rose Red.

The characters were what made this book for me. I loved the twist on some of the classics, such as: Prince Charming is a womanizer

and Rose Red is a party girl:

However, the story for me was a bit predictable and I felt a bit disappointed with the ending. The world that has been built up means that the rest of the series could be really interesting as it is such an interesting premises, but as a stand alone it wasn’t as amazing as I felt it could be.

4-stars


Have you read these? What did you think?

Are there any other series that you think are worth reading?

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf By Wolf, #1)

Title: Wolf by Wolf
Author: Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #1
Publication: 20th October 2015 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A historical fiction.

My Thoughts (2)

From Goodreads

Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them-made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.Her story begins on a train.

Germania, 1956. Over ten years since the Nazis won the war. 18-year-old Yael is part of the resistance, and she has just one mission: to kill Hitler.

But first she’s got to get close enough to him to do it.

Experimented on during her time at Auschwitz, Yael has the unique ability to change her appearance at will. The only part of her which always remains are the five tattooed wolves on her arm; one for each of the people she’s lost. Using her abilities, she must transform into Adele Wolfe, Germany’s most famous female rider and winner of the legendary Axis Tour; an epic long distance motorcycle race from Berlin to Tokyo, where only the strongest (and wiliest) riders survive. If she can win this, she will be able to get close enough to kill the Fuhrer and change history forever.

But with other riders sabotaging her chances at every turn, Yael’s mission won’t be easy…

My Thoughts

There would be no dressing up as a maid. No cyanide slipped into his crystal glass of mineral water. The Fuhrer’s death was to be a loud, screaming thing. A broadcast of blood over the Reichssender.

I went into this not knowing anything about it and I ended up loving it.

The book is in alternative history novel with a fascinating premises based on a lot of “what ifs” and a plot that is unlike any other.

What if Germany won the war? What if Hitler didn’t kill himself? What if the unethical medical experiments didn’t stop? What if some of the experiments worked? What if the experiment creates something else?

The story flicks between Then, when Yael is in Auschwitz having unethical human experimentation forced upon her, and Now, when she is disguised as Adele Wolfe, Germany’s most famous female motorbike rider and winner of the legendary Axis Tour, with one thing on her mind. To kill Hitler. The two timelines are headed so it’s very clear, but we would be able to tell even if they weren’t; they were really well placed within the story and weren’t confusing and the story flowed seamlessly. I really liked that Yael has a tattoo with five wolves, to cover her camp tattoo, and each time it flicked back to the past we met one of the people that the wolves represent, who have shaped the person she is today.

The book explores identity. Due to the medical experimentation, Yael can change her appearance to become anyone, have any face, and so never really has her own identity. She cannot remember what she looked like before the experimentation began. As Graudin says in her author’s note:

This book, at its heart, is about identity. Not only in how we see ourselves, but about how we see others. What makes people who they are? The color of their skin? The blood in their veins? … I gave Yael the ability to skinshift to address these questions, as well as to highlight the absurdity of racial superiority. By taking creative liberty with this surreal element, I hoped to push readers out of their comfort zones and into Yael’s many skins and, by doing so, to impart a deeper understand of what humanity is capable of.

This has easily become one of my favourite books and I’m gutted that I have left it this long to read it. I’m eager to read the next one! I would happily recommend this to everyone in a heartbeat.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Series: N/A
Publication: 4th May 2017 by HarperCollins
Genre: Fiction

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book with a strong female character

This counts towards my ARC August challenge.

Advanced Reading Copy provided, in exchanged for an honest review, from the publishers.

My Thoughts (2)

From Goodreads

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

My Thoughts

This is the best book I’ve read so far this year.

This book first came to my attention whilst I was waiting for the tube. Yes, advertising really does work. Doesn’t that cover just grab your attention? But honestly, the book wasn’t what I was expecting, it was so much more.

Eleanor is one of those well developed and interesting characters who are truly memorable. She is socially clueless to the point where everyone just finds her odd. It can be very painful yet hysterical. She sticks to her routine; working at the same job for nine years, starting work at 8:30, breaking for an hour lunch during which she reads the newspaper cover to cover and does the cross word and leaving at 5:30. She then goes home and listens to the Archers and watches TV for a little while then off to bed at ten. The only day her routine changes is Wednesday when receives a phone call from Mummy. Throughout the weekend she drinks two bottles of vodka so shes consistently in the state where she’s neither drunk or sober. No one comes to visit her and she doesn’t go out to visits anyone else.

She is completely 100% fine with her life. Until she see the one on stage. Then she is on a mission to meet she. She first decides she needs to have a complete make over before she meets him, which is both shocking and hilarious.

When her computer breaks down she meets Raymonds from IT. He wears jeans and t-shirts with ‘childish slogans’ on. Raymond is intrigued by Eleanor but she’s not interested because she’s getting herself ready for the man of her dreams. But after work one day, Eleanor and Raymond come across a man who has fallen. Together they help the man and begin a friendship with him and his family that changes Eleanor’s routine and life.

Eleanor’s social awkwardness and seemingly lack of verbal filter can be hilirous, but I never felt like I was laughing at Eleanor.

There was nothing to tempt me from the choice of desserts, so I opted instead for a coffee, which was bitter and lukewarm. Naturally, I had been about to pour it all over myself but, just in time, had read the warning printed on the paper cup, alerting me to the fact that hot liquids can cause injury. A lucky escape, Eleanor! I said to myself, laughing quietly. I began to suspect that Mr. McDonald was a very foolish man indeed, although, judging from the undiminished queue, a wealthy one.

The book isn’t all funny and not at all light. It is also a dark book. Something awful happened to Eleanor as a child, and throughout the book we get hints as to what it is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was packed full of emotion and I can wait to see what the author produces next.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1)

Title: Age of Myth
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Series: The Legends of the First Empire #1
Publication: 28th June 2016 by Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book from a sub genre of your favourite genre.

My Thoughts (2)

Since time immemorial, humans have worshiped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.

Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

My Thoughts

I’d like to start by saying, if you haven’t read a Michael J Sullivan book before, you’re really missing out! He publishes his books a little differently to most in that he writes the whole series before it gets published. This means that not only do you not have to wait ages for the next book to be released but the books are all fantastic. You don’t get that issue where a book half way through the series looses it’s way or the inconsistencies. You get some great links, foreshadowing and worldbuilding. If you haven’t guessed yet, Michael J Sullivan is an auto-buy author for me, simply because his books never let me down.

Age of Myth is set 3000 years before The Riyria Revelations but it is meant to be read separately and doesn’t have any spoilers. There are some characters and locations that are mentioned  in both but certainly no spoilers.

I loved the characters in this book; Suri, Raithe and Persephone in particular. As the booked flicked between the different character’s POV, I found myself sad when each of their parts finished. My particular favourite was Suri was because she was wild, innocent and lovely, although she did remind me slightly of Auri from Name of the Wind in the way that she spoke to animals and understood the world around her differently to othersThe characters were what really made this story for me; there was natural banter, character progression and you become emotionally attached to them because they’re so relatable and likable.

Like his other novels, this book was fast paces, easy to read with action, interesting characters and some unexpected twists.

My Thoughts (1)

5-stars