Friday, 22 January 2016

City of Legends by Cheyanne Young

For my first read of 2016 I chose a previously self published titles by Cheyanne Young that is being re-released on February 5th and is available for preorder now.

City of Legends is the first book in the trilogy of the same name. Originally released by Young with the title Powered this is a fast pace young adult sci-fantasy adventure. 

From the very start you are plunged into a high octane story, it really does not start off slowly. From chapter one we meet Maci Knight a 'super' merely a day away from her eighteenth birthday and subsequently her Hero examination. However we learn, as does Maci a secret that could potentially change everything, she was a twin at birth, to be a twin as a 'super' is dangers as it is common knowledge that one twin will be evil and one will be good.  Maci's twin died so there is no way to know who was the evil twin. Maci must find herself and see if nature outweighs nurture. She must deal with the stigma that comes with the revelation as those around her treat her with new suspicion for fear she will go rogue. I liked the character of Maci and enjoyed the way her character developed during the story gaining a greater sense of self and her purpose. 

Many books of a similar genre for young adults are often weighty tombs so it is refreshing to read a much more accessible book. I think some less confident readers will be able to access these stories as a opposed to books well over 400 pages that can be quite intimidating. Although I found a lot of the story predictable I did read it in one sitting so I was clearly gripped. 

Young's world is cleverly created and her characters are witty and well developed. As an opener to a trilogy it's a good set up.

I really toyed between 3 - 4 stars. Part of me feels I should give 4 stars as I read this in one go. However, purely because I found aspects of the story really predictable I had to go for 3

* I was asked to review this by the publishers. All views and opinions expressed are my own

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've Recently Added to my TBR List

Joining back in with the fantastic meme from The Broke and the Bookish. This week the Top Ten Tuesday is books I have recently added to my TBR list.  Now any book worm knows that the to be read list grows more then it shrinks. I often find that my list feels a bit daunting but I love the lure of a new book. 

So my list has grown at an alarming rate now I'm gearing up to return to the school library world. I have done half a list of young adult read and half books I am hope to read from my own personal collection. 

1. The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

This keeps popping up on my instagram feed in various post from other book enthusiasts and even a sponsored audible post. This actually was released on my birthday last year but I've only started seeing some buzz now I am back into more young adult reading. The sequel is released on the 9th of February so I'd like to try read it before Glass Swords comes out. One review on good reads proclaimed it an X-Men Dystopian story so that has hooked me in already!

2. A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab 

I was tipped off to this by another blogger. This is a fantasy story that takes place in four versions of London. I love that it is set in a UK and I can't resit a good young adult fantasy to add to the school library . 

3. Jekyll's Mirror by William Hussey 

I stumbled open this in the teen section of my local library and as I love the Robert Louis Stevenson original inspiration I could not resist picking this up.  This a modern re-imagining using social media as the tool to create the nastier side. I think I'll race through this one. 

4. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

I enjoyed the Delirum series by Oliver and this story sounds utterly different so I really want to see how Oliver deals with a different genre. This story is about two sisters whose lives are dramatically altered by a terrible accident that leaves one of them with facial scaring. 

5. The Death House by Sarah Pinborough 

I've seen a few reviews of this book appear on my goodreads feed and initially it looked like another dystopian story but this isn't about challenging the oppression in society instead its about the love that blossoms between those who have been deemed 'defective' by society. I think it sounds like a riveting read. 

6. Angel of Storms by Trudi Canvan 

I had completely missed the release of the sequel to Thief's Magic. Although it took me a while to get into the first one in this series I love pretty much anything Trudi puts her name on so I just can't ignore this new release. 

7. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith 

I resisted reading the crime fiction by J.K Rowling under her pseudonym as Galbraith just in case I was disappointed. It is no secret that I love the Harry Potter series so I was a bit concerned. However it doesn't feel like Rowling wrote this at all. To be truthful it might as well be written by a man called Galbraith as it feels like a completely different style. I loved the first one and with the release of the third last year I need to hurry up and read the second so I can be up to date for the third. 

8. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson 

I read the Mistborn trilogy last year and I honestly loved it. The fantasy that Sanderson created was on another level and I was transported into the world he created effortlessly. This is another installment in the Mistborn world. It is set 300 years later so I am yet to decide if I need to re-read the other 3. Thankfully I can remember quite alot so I am probably going to risk it. I got this for Christmas so it keeps beckoning me from the shelf. 

9.  The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson 

Ok I know it is another Brandon Sanderson but it was another Christmas present so it got added to my list to read when I was bought this by wonderful husband. He had clearly heard me waxing lyrical about the Mistborn trilogy. I started this a few weeks back but got distracted by life so I am hoping to get into it again soon. 

10. The Lake House by Kate Morton 

I completely missed the release of this new Kate Morton. I always enjoy escaping into the twisting tales she weaves and I know this will be a relaxing book to read that won't be too complex for my tired mummy brain to escape into. 

What is on your TBR list at the moment?

Monday, 18 January 2016

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

I requested to review this book - Seven Ways We Lie as I was intrigued by title. I wanted to branch out in my YA reads and try avoid a fantasy story or a series.

Seven Ways We Lie is a debut novel by Riley Redgate. Considering her influences on goodreads are listed as Neil Gaiman and J.K.Rowling her own writing genre is considerably different. I think for myself this was always going to be a bit of a tough sell. Not only am I not really familiar with the 'drama' that seems to exist in American Highschools (at least fictional ones anyway) but I also work in a secondary school and found some of the ways issues were dealt with to be quite implausible.

Having said all this I think the characters were really well written. Redgate develops each of her characters by letting them author individual chapters. I have always liked this style of writing when done well. I think its a mark of a very talented writer to be able to switch from character to character creating seven distinctly different voices with each chapter, which Redgate manages superbly.  Each character has some secret or lie whether its a lie to friends, family or even to themselves that they are all hiding. Each individual voice in the story deals with some tough topics and sometimes it has moments where it feels like its a bit  much. However, the constant change of voice helps to break up the issues and keeps the story compelling.

Each character is dealing with their own personal problems. Twin sisters Kat and Olivia are dealing in their own ways with their mother abandoning them. Claire is dealing with a massive inferiority complex, Juniper is struggling under the weight of her supposedly perfect life, Matt his parents disintegrating relationship, Lucas with his sexuality and Valentine is dealing with the weight of his involvement with the rumour regarding the student teacher relationship.  All these stories are connected. The rumour of the student teacher relationship is the core of the story weaving its way into each characters own personal journey. I found each story compelling and each individual story was quite emotional, particularly that of Kat's, who was by far for me the most intriguing character.

Unfortunately for me however, my background working in several schools made the handling of the student teacher relationship implausible and really damaged my ability to connect with the story as it was just too far fetched (says the girl who likes any story with a dragon in it).  Firstly the headteacher holds an assembly and tells the whole school about the as of yet unsubstantiated rumour. Although naturally some gossiping occurs I don't think Redgate captures the pandemonium that would undoubtedly ensue if this kind of rumour was announced in a 'normal school'.  Additionally in order to ferret out information every student in the school is asked to complete a statement about what they know on the issue. I just can't see this happening . Again from my own experience I can just imagine the ridiculous responses students would write on these. Finally the way Redgate shows the school dealing with a student vindictively identified as the one involved in the affair is just absurd for me and would never be allowed to occur. The headteacher meets with this student alone - no parental presence at all. Sadly this really hampered my ability to take this aspect of the story seriously.

Thankfully however their are several redeeming features including the developing relationship between Matt and Olivia as well as the transformation of Kat. Although I found elements of the story really cliched and absent from reality I equally found parts moving and though provoking. This would be a great read for an older teen, especially one struggling with issues at home and with their identity. This book is avaliable to preorder and will be published on the 8th March.

A compelling and thought-provoking read in parts. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

Return to Reviewing: Daugther of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

As this year marks the year I shall finish maternity leave and return to my librarian ways I thought it was a good a time as any to return to my book blogging ways. Although I have not been blogging I have been reading and have discovered some new authors and series that I have absolutely loved. I have not managed to read quite as many books as I usually do but having a baby will do that to you!

As before the blog will feature a variety of books and I will try my best not to pick just fantasy series. Having said that I am going to kick of this years blogging with a phenomenal fantasy series I devoured in the final few weeks before my little girl arrived.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Do you belong here or Elsewhere?

My eldest sister like me is a keen reader. As part of her book group this fantasy title was suggested and after storming through it she recommended it to me. As I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of little miss I decided to treat myself to the whole trilogy . I was worried I would struggle to read all three before her arrival but they are a truly spectacular series that hooked me from the first few chapters. 

Although I had heard of the series I had missed all the hype surrounding it so was not really aware of what the story was about.  The central character Karou has been precariously balancing two lives. One in which she is a semi-normal teenager with a flair for drawing whilst simultaneously living with a group of Chimera and collecting teeth for the intriguing Brimstone.  She has no idea what Brimstone uses the teeth for but she continues to collect teeth from a whole array of different places and animals.  Her discoveries throughout each book plunge her deeper into a world where teeth are more important than gold and she has a pivotal role in a war that has been raging between Angels and Chimera for centuries. 

Karou is an enigmatic and feisty lead character and Taylor’s writing style brings her to life brilliantly.  A book can pass or fail for me on the way a lead female is written – I really dislike sappy and somewhat pathetic female leads (Bella – Twilight for one).  Karou is far from this and if one dynamic female character is not enough Taylor creates several strong female characters throughout the series that demand a readers respect. Zuzana is by far my favourite and is used instrumentally by Taylor to provide a lighter side to the darker moments in the story. Zuzana, as Karou's best friend in the real world, allows Karou’s  worlds to mix. In many fantasy sagas two worlds are often mutually exclusive and it is difficult for the protagonist to have a foot in the real world still. Zuzana helps to keep Karou involved in both worlds which I loved.  The other central character is Akiva, the male lead and as is often the case he is insanely handsome. Fortunately there is depth to his character that thankfully means his otherworldly looks do not ruin him. Several moments in the books with Akiva brought me to tears.  

This series is also a fantastically written love story and is one that spans decades, species and worlds and is written fluidly and beautifully by Taylor.  Her writing jumps off the page keeping you reading and reading. Taylor manages to create emotion with her words without laying it on too thick. Yet even though this is a superbly written love story it is an incredible fantasy epic. The world she writes is hauntingly beautiful and she challenges the perception of war having to be good versus evil.

If you are toying with the idea of reading a fantasy book give this series a try. It is a complicated fantasy but Taylor’s writing style is so clever and she keeps the pace steady and manages not to overdo it, giving you time to really absorb and enjoy the story. Her writing style is almost melodic, never weighing you down and although you are in the midst of some dramatic scenes she still manages to interject humour just when you really need someone to cut the tension.

My only criticism is that I actually think this should have been a quartet. I feel parts of the story in the third instalment were rushed. In particular new characters were introduced with little background for them to then suddenly play a quintessential role.  For me this did a disservice to her well developed original characters. I think stretching the story over four books would have meant she did not need to suddenly introduce a character in order for them to be a plot catalyst. Really I am just greedy and wanted to read more from this world. 

On the whole I did love them. I laughed, cried and devoured this whole trilogy and would gladly read them again.