The Raven Tower – Ann Leckie

39395857.jpgFor centuries, the Raven has watched over and protected the kingdom of Iraden. His power is sustained by the sacrifice of Iraden’s ruler, the Raven’s Lease, every generation. But when the Lease disappears without paying his debt and a usurper takes the throne, the power of the Raven appears to be dwindling. Is he even there at all? It is left to Eolo, loyal aide to the true heir, Mawat, to uncover the truth hidden inside the Raven’s Tower.

The writing style is really interesting. It’s written in the second person, from the point-of-view of The Strength and Patience of the Hill, to Eolo, the character who the story follows. This has the effect of placing the reader inside the story, using a really unusual technique. However, this was a bit of a double-edged sword because, while being new and different is both good and impressive, it took me a really long time to get used to the style which stopped me from being able to get into the story.

The lore in this book is very good. The system of the gods and their magics has been well thought-through, and I love gods and mythology so this really worked for me. It was interesting to be following the humans and the gods simultaneously, but it was sometimes a bit confusing because it took a minute to work out which thread we were on with each new chapter.

The Raven’s Tower is a good book, and a solid piece of fantasy-fiction. But the pace is slow and it took me a looooooong time to read, despite not being that long. For that reason alone, I can’t give it full marks, but it is worth a read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Advertisements

Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

36586697Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London. After a painful breakup from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie goes off the rails, seeking comfort in the arms of men who are all wrong, pushing her friends away, and putting her career at risk.

I really enjoyed the honesty of the narration. Queenie is well aware – throughout the entire book – that she’s making bad decisions. She knows that what she’s doing isn’t good for her and questions why she’s doing it, then does it anyway. It actually took me a long time to warm up to Queenie. I’ve also recently gone through a very painful breakup, but I couldn’t sympathise with her meek, desperate attitude towards her ex. It wasn’t until her deeper, childhood issues were covered that I was able to understand where she was coming from.

I adored Queenie’s family (especially Diana and her grandparents), and the Corgis group chat was brilliant. However, this book isn’t all fun and humour. Queenie is funny, with a witty narrative voice and some entertaining stories, but the book also goes to some pretty dark places. The sexual content was completely unexpected and quite explicit, while the mental-health issues explored are really serious. Queenie is marketed as something along the lines of Bridget Jones’ Diary, but it’s a lot more intense and real than that.

On the whole, this is a reasonably enjoyable, relatable and relevant book, with a strong (but not over-bearing) feminist feel to it. But I’m not sure it’s a book that we “need”. Unlike other culturally important books (I’m thinking The Hate U Give), I don’t think I’d describe Queenie as a must-read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Red Address Book – Sofia Lundberg

4354190796-year-old Doris lives alone in an apartment in Stockholm. She gets very few visitors, looking forward instead to her weekly Skype calls with her grandniece, Jenny. Looking through the names in her old address book, Doris decides to write down the stories of her life – working as a maid in Sweden, becoming a live mannequin in Paris, falling in love and heading to America before the Second World War. There are so many stories to tell, and not much time left for Doris to tell them.

To begin with, I found this book quaint and interesting enough, but it didn’t really grab me. Doris and her stories did grow on me as I read on, and I did get more drawn in. The Red Address Book is a really sweet story; the actual plot isn’t very exciting but Doris is a strong and genuine character who made it a worthwhile read. It wasn’t 100% my cup of tea, but engaging and emotional nonetheless.

I do have to say that I was consistently put off by the mild obsession with beauty, but Doris and Jenny were both models and had their beauty celebrated so it did make sense at the same time as being shallow.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

37635562Spensa’s world has been under attack by an alien race called the Krell for hundreds of years. Humanity are forced to take to the skies in defence of their lives, sacrificing pilots and cadets in the name of survival. Spensa has always dreamed of being a pilot, but since her father turned coward and deserted his team years ago, she hasn’t been able to escape from under his shadow. Finally, the opportunity arises for her to go to flight school, where she learns much more than just how to fly…

I haven’t read very many fantasies set in space – I usually prefer dragons and elves and other land-based fantasies – but I did really enjoy this one. Most of the plot unfolds in the air, while Spensa is flying or learning to fly, so in a way it was very similar to Star Wars, but with more of a YA feel.

The character growth in this book is very good. I really didn’t take to Spensa to begin with. She was annoying, whiny and aggressive, while her quirky violent outbursts felt very fake when put together with how insecure she was. However, as the plot developed, she changed. She became more confident and more thoughtful and considerate of others, and considerably more likeable.

Characters that I did absolutely love were Doomslug and M-bot. I also really liked Spensa’s flight mates. They were a witty and diverse group and *slight spoiler alert* the many deaths in this book are very sad.

This was my first Sanderson, and I would definitely read more.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: Wrecker – Noel O’Reilly

Hello and welcome to the final stop of the blog tour for Wrecker by Noel O’Reilly. Don’t forget to go back and take a look at the other stops on this tour!

thumbnail_Wrecker Banner.png


35436024Shipwrecks are a part of life on the coast of Cornwall. In the remote village of Porthmorvoren, things are no different. Bounty and corpses wash up on the beaches regularly, and the locals take what they can. On one such day, Mary Blight helps herself to a fine pair of boots from the body of a dead noblewoman, not realising that she has set herself up as the prime suspect for biting off the woman’s earlobes to steal her earrings. As word spreads of the so-called ‘Porthmorvoren Cannibal’, Mary’s safety becomes less and less certain. The arrival of a handsome Methodist minister to the village only makes matters worse.

Wrecker is the perfect book for fans of Poldark. The story itself isn’t particularly exciting. It’s a detailed snapshot of a time in Mary’s life where some unfortunate things happen to her, but nothing overly dramatic. There is no big adventure, no gruesome murder to solve, no epic romance. Just some interesting stuff happening to a pretty unlucky woman.

The quality of the writing is what brings this story up. I didn’t like the characters very much – especially Mary – but I still found myself caring about her. To be honest, she deserved a lot of the bad things that happened to her, but I was rooting for her nonetheless. My main takeaway from this book was that I felt really, really sorry for Johnenry.

My favourite thing about Wrecker was that it is written using old Cornish dialect (which is much easier to understand if you have watched Poldark). The character voices were so realistic and so full of attitude that, even though I found the story a teeny bit boring, it was a pleasure to read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

The Illumination of Ursula Flight – Anna-Marie Crowhurst

39284560.jpgUrsula Flight was born on the night of a bad-luck comet. Educated by her father, she discovers a love of writing and develops a dream of becoming a famous playwright. However, she is expected to marry and live the way it is believed that a woman should. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Ursula decides to fight for her dreams. But freedom comes at a price.

The Illumination of Ursula Flight is a very inventive book, written in an unusual style. Sections of the story are told through Ursula’s play scripts, lists, letters and private diary entries. The reading experience is broken up with refreshing insertions which really helped to connect the reader with the character – I really loved it.

Ursula is a very relatable character. She’s a woman with her own thoughts and desires, in a time when she isn’t expected to have any. Her witty and ballsy personality is captured brilliantly, in a way that doesn’t follow the typical ‘feisty heroine’ tropes. A host of equally wonderful, amusing and sometimes repulsive characters make up Ursula’s fellow cast members.

I enjoyed the story. It covers a long period of time, with serious issues broached alongside the general humour of the story. It was really nice to follow Ursula’s progression from a dream-fuelled child to a gutsy and ambitious woman as she grew up.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Home – Amanda Berriman

38457392Jesika is four and a half. She lives in a flat with her little brother, Toby, and her mum, who is struggling to make ends meet. Jesika struggles to understand everything that’s going on, and has to deal with a lot when her mum and Toby get ill. All she knows is that she loves her mummy and doesn’t want to live anywhere but with her.

Home is a very special book. It is written entirely from Jesika’s point of view, which is brilliantly done. Her thoughts and feelings are entirely realistic and it’s really easy to understand why she reacts to things the way she does. The writing really feels like it’s coming from the mouth of a 4-year-old. I loved the touch of misspelled words to enhance the experience of reading from a child’s perspective.

I loved Jesika’s personality. She is a sweet and brave little girl, and impossible not to love. At times, it was kind of frustrating to read because, being so young, Jesika doesn’t understand everything that’s happening and doesn’t tell the adults. She comes so close a few times and I was practically yelling out at the book when she forgot or got too scared. I can’t remember the last time I was so emotionally invested in a story.

Trigger warning: this is a very emotional story and one thread involves child sexual abuse, but it isn’t graphic or descriptive and, though upsetting, I didn’t find it too difficult to read.

Home is completely addictive and fantastically well written. Quite possibly the best book I’ve read this year.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchage for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Hunted – GX Todd

34209822In book #2 of The Voices series, it seems everyone is searching for Lacey. Albus, a man with no voice of his own, is led by the voice of his lost sister with one goal: find and protect the martyr. He and his friends must find her, before anyone else does. Before Posy, and the evil voice inside him – The Other – can.

This series is so good, omg. I can’t even tell you. I’ve seen surprisingly few post-apocalyptic books around recently, and The Voices is based on a really scary and interesting concept: voices in our heads that caused humanity to break down and drove huge numbers of people to kill themselves. It is terrifying and super interesting.

But not only is the concept great, so is the story. I was a tiny bit disappointed at first that the story wasn’t being told from Lacey’s point-of-view (like book #1 is), but after a while, I realised that this was actually a good thing. Firstly, it gave the book a fresh angle. Secondly, I got a bit of a YA vibe from Defender, although it isn’t a YA book. This time, that vibe was gone. I think this was down to the story being told from the point of various adults so, as much as I love Lacey, that teen-vibe was gone – which, for this kind of book, was a good thing.

The characters in this book are just fantastic. Lacey and Voice in particular, but every single character (even the awful, mean ones) bring important something to the story. Also – no spoilers – but EEK big news regarding one of my other favourite characters! Book #3 right now please!!

Basically, you have to read this book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Frostblood – Elly Blake

32618150Forced to hide her Fireblood abilities from the Frostblood ruling class, Ruby has never had the opportunity to practise or develop her skills. When Frostblood soldiers destroy her village and murder her mother, she is suddenly thrown into a battle she has little time to prepare for. Her mission: kill the Frost King.

Frostblood is a classic, fantastic YA fantasy adventure. By far the best I’ve read in a long time. It is very well-written, with all the predictable but vital components of the genre: a feisty teen heroine, a rocky but passionate romance, and an epic battle between good and evil.

Ruby is a strong, volatile character. She has some serious anger-management issues and the tendency to jump to conclusions, but it’s all essential to her Fireblood personality which stops her from tipping over the edge into annoying (like so many YA heroines do). The rest of the characters, including love-interest Arcus, are also likeable and well-developed. I especially loved brother Thistle – what a babe.

The plot is really, really good. It’s super eventful and unpredictable. There were good amounts of plot development, character and world building in equal measure. The book was at no point boring, but also didn’t speed along too quickly or become too action-packed. Plus there were one or two plot-twists that genuinely took me by surprise.

Frostblood is a must-read for fans of fantasy and magic. I will be buying book #2, immediately.

Goodreads | Amazon

Mussolini’s Island – Sarah Day

29758001.jpgSet in 1940’s Italy, Mussolini’s Island explores an area of history rarely looked at. Along with many other men like him, Francesco finds himself being imprisoned and sent to the island of San Domino for confino (confinement), for the crime of being gay. With suspicions about who gave their names to the police, fear over what will happen to them, and the pressure of an impending war, life on the island is far from easy.

Elena, a young local girl, is drawn to Francesco but can’t understand why he and the other men have been made prisoners on her island. When she finds out the truth about the prisoners, she is left with a decision that could have terrible consequences.

There are a lot of layers to this book. I found the historical aspects very interesting, and I really enjoyed the inclusion of some Italian terms (confino, arrusi, etc). Homosexuality in Italy during the 1940s isn’t an area I’ve read about before and I was eager to learn more. Although the story is fictional, a large amount of research obviously went into writing this book and I have a lot of respect for the author for that.

Unfortunately, I also had some big problems reading Mussolini’s Island and didn’t particularly enjoy the story. Mainly, the plot was very, very slow. There is a large mystery element (what happened to Francesco’s father; who turned the arrusi’s names over; and who killed Rapetti) but these questions aren’t answered until near the end. The rest of the book mainly consists of Francesco either reminiscing about the past or fawning over Emilio. Overall, it was kind of boring. If it weren’t for the general intrigue and interesting historical elements, I wouldn’t have made it all the way through.

As it was, I did reach the end and I did enjoy the book to some extent. What it really lacked was a stronger level of romance and excitement. Sadly, a well-written but decidedly average book.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon