Review: Ash Princess
I received a copy from Netgalley.
This one was a granted wish!! One of my greatly anticipated reads of this year as well. It's not a new concept - surviving princess of a conquered kingdom discovers the means and power to aid a revolution to take back her throne. The way the plot was handled was extremely good. Again not particularly unique, but well written with interesting characters and a narrative that made the story captivating.
Theodosia is the surviving princess kept as a hostage to a cruel Kaiser and his invading court, a reminder to her people now enslaved of the power the Kaiser. Nicknamed the Ash Princess (her mother was a Queen of Fire magic, killed in the invasion) and renamed Thora, she now lives a hard life in the Kaiser's court. While she still lives in the palace she's as much as a slave as any of the remainder of her people. She's punished brutally at the Kaiser's slightest whim and supposed to sit there dolefully and accept everything thrown at her without complaint. She's supposed to be thankful she's there at all.
She's sneered at and ridiculed by the court people. She has guards and a maid who watch her every move and report on her daily. It's a walking nightmare. The magic that was once sacred to Theodosia's people is now almost like an accessory to the people now living in her world. Theodosia's only friend Crescentia is the daughter of the Theyn, the head of the Kaiser's army and punisher. Crescentia is an airhead, a spoiled court daughter. She's sweet but dim. She's kind to Theo and one of the few people who treat her like a real person. Yet there has to be some resentment there on Theo's behalf - it's just not really something that Cress wants to deal with. (Or at least that's my interpretation).
The Kaiser's heir Prinz Soren has come back to the kingdom and the buzz is that he's ready to settle down and choose a wife, all of which Theo has no interest in. It appears that The o has pretty much given up at this point but there's something deep inside her, a righteous anger simmering beneath the surface. Mourning the family she's lost, of the people who died in the invasion, the pain she suffers daily, and the helpless that she can't seem to do anything about her position.
Until one night when she comes across an old friend, now an escaped slave from the mines pretending to be a palace worker makes her an offer. Help her escape. Theo is given some harsh truths about what is left of her mother's people. They want a queen to rise and take back what is rightfully theirs. And Theo is that queen.
There is a revolution brewing, there are still people loyal to Theo who believe she can be the queen her people need. It's an awful lot of pressure. Theo has to decide what wants. The punishments she is suffering are getting worse and there's also a threat of marrying her off hanging around as well. The revolution needs someone on the inside.
So plots form. One involving the handsome, eligible Prinz Soren, round the same age as Theo. Ditzy Cress is swooning over the prince convinced her position as the Theyn's daughter makes her the most eligible match. Yet it's not Cress of course, who has caught Soren's attention.
And there of course, the inevitable fantasy romance. Theo's emotions are in overdrive, Soren is nothing like his monstrous father - if Soren were king would things be different? The plot continues to twist and turn. The end was pretty damn good, cliffhanger (of course) and I really want to see where this one was going.
It's quiet violent in parts, particularly Theo's punishments. The character building is intense, every character grows throughout the novel, a shock twist at the end changes the boundaries between Crescentia and Theo which could be an interesting plot for the follow up novel to take on. And the twist at the end for Theo and Soren made me grin.
I loved Theodosia and how she grew over the novel, she's my favourite type of fantasy heroine. She makes tremendous sacrifice for herself to start to right the wrongs that were done. Her strength and development is brilliant. And this is only the beginning of her journey.
Thank you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for approving my request to view the title.
Third read of this wonderful book. This time I'm listening to it in audio then marking the pages in my paperback. (Reading and listening) and it may be one I've the best audio books I've ever heard. It's really atmospheric and the narration is amazing. The Southern accents are awesome.
Purple Cover - Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Dual Pov - The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee
Set In Another Country - Wildcard by Marie Lu (Japan)
Fall Release - A Room Away From The Wolves by Nova Ren Suma
Space it Stars - Light Years by Kass Morgan
Fire in Title or on Cover - The Arsonist by Stephanie Oaks (fire on Cover)
Middle Grade - The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken
One Word Title - Shatter by Aprilynne Pike
Gold Copper or Bronze Cover - The Merciless 2 by Danielle Vega
History with a Twist - In The Shadows of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Myth or Legend - The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwall
Killers - Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite
Set in a School - Blythewood by Carol Goodman
what I have so far...
Mystery - While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt
Witches - Toil and Trouble anthology
Black Cover - Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Pretty Spine - The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Freebie - My BestvFriend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Under 300 Pages - A Murder of Magpies by Sarah Bromley
Scares You - Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Found Family - The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater
With the summer card completed I have once again put most of my currently reading on pause and signed up for Pretty Deadly Reviews Fall Bookish Bingo card.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
Another book I was a little apprehensive about since I’ve seen so many mixed reviews about it. Romantic comedies are not really my thing, but I really wanted to try this one and was so excited when I got approved on Netgalley.
Though it took me forever to get around to reading it and the paperback had come out so I wound up buying a finished paperback. I was so pleased at how much I wound up loving this book.
I saw a lot of talk on YA book twitter about people complaining when Dimple first meets Rishi she throws her coffee in his face (iced coffee) and how that made her unlikeable. Given the circumstances….I kind of applaud her for it.
Wen the novel starts Dimple has been accepted at Stanford and is totally thrilled about it, she also wants to go to Insomnia Con, a special programme/competition for designing an app. Some lady who’s famous to coders in the knowhow presides every year and Dimple is overexcited to go – just one thing to get out the way – convincing her parents.
Her parents are nice enough – hard working middle class people. Though Dimple’s mom doesn’t seem to get that Dimple isn’t interested in things like Indian make up techniques or finding an ideal Indian husband). The makeup techniques sound fascinating and learning little bits about other cultures is always really interesting. Yet they relent and let Dimple head for the convention.
On the other hand we have Rishi. His parents are very well do to and he’s also on his way to Insomnia Con for one reason only – to meet Dimple. Their parents have been talking…Rishi has his whole future planned, he’s going to MIT but already planning on how he’s going to woo Dimple and has ideas for how they will work together as a couple. While all this probably sounds cringeworthy the thing about Rishi is he’s such a sweetie. He was so nice and such a genuine person. He’s thoughtful and kind. He’s really ready to give this arranged thing a good go.
Dimple…not so much. So not surprising when she first meets Rishi and is clueless to everything else going…she is not amused. However, she does thaw towards Rishi as the convention gets going. Dimple is really smart and put a lot of thought into the app she wants to design. She’s creative and witty and awesome. She’s forward in some respects and reserved in other. I really liked her character.
Some of the technical side of the app building and the convention stuff was a little over my head as I know nothing about that sort of thing.
However the novel was so well written that it was easy to get into the flow and the spirit of things. The spark between Dimple and Rishi is just delightful as they navigate each other and the people at the convention. Dimple has a friend she’s made online Celia who is also attending the convention. They room together – but both are very different. Celia is a flirt and a rich girl who makes friends with a bunch of other wealthy students (who you sort of wonder why they’re there at all) and she wants to include Dimple in their outings. Dimple is clearly uncomfortable.
Of course in swoops Rishi to help. It’s so cute how they keep winding up together. Naturally nothing is ever smooth sailing, there are drama issues with Dimple’s own plans for her future and what Rishi has in mind for his. While their personalities, as different as they are fit together, their ideas for the future don’t mix so well. Rishi has an art talent – he’s an excellent artist and has designed a comic series of his own. He’s not interested in pursuing this brilliant talent of his as he’s got it in his head that an art career won’t provide a good future for him and Dimple. She’s pissy that he’s not following his dreams and doing what is expected rather than what he wants. Just as he got involved in her life…she takes things in her own hands for his talent.
It was a tad predictable is the only thing that didn’t really land it a five star for me. Though I really really loved it. I loved the characters and the writing and the story and this is now an autobuy author for me. I already have her next book ready and waiting.
Thank you Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
After seeing a few not so great reviews popping up for this title I did have some misgivings about it when I stated it, however, it exceeded my every expectation and I was surprised at how much I wound up loving this book.
It’s a very slow burn fantasy, not a lot of action but a lot of political manoeuvring and some epic world building. Also beautifully written, almost lyrical in a way. The plot initially wasn’t anything I haven’t seen before. Basic outline - girl born out of wedlock, no one knows what to do with her, she’s smuggled into a special teaching house, discovers she has secret magic, gets involved with difficult tutor. In a world that’s usually run by queens a usurper king has stolen the throne, there’s a lost female heir who is the rightful queen and there is a plot to overthrow the evil tyrant king and bring the rightful queen back to the throne. Girl finds herself a key part in this plot.
Admittedly, I had some eye rolls at the start of this book thinking I was fairly certain of where this book was going. While the writing was gorgeous, the plot was painfully slow. I liked most of the characters and the impending romance was kind of obvious as to where it was going as well. Quite pleased to see this wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be.
The heroine Brienna is raised by her grandfather. Girls are taken to special schools to learn to be “Masters of Passion” – art, music, dramatics, wit or knowledge. Each pupil is assigned a talent and are given years and years of training to become a master. Starting at 10, Brienna is considerably behind the other girls, and the house is full. But she comes in and can’t find a passion to suit her. She fails miserably. Brienna was okay, if a bit wooden.
Finally she comes to decide knowledge the one thing she’s actually good at, she’s got to be better than everyone if she’s to become a master by graduation time. One thing I really loved about this book was the positive female friendships. The other girls who are students are not rivals, they are close friends and almost like sisters. While there’s a little bit of ill contention with one or two with Brienna stepping on a few toes, there’s no outright dislike or rivalry.
Brienna discovers a hidden talent of magic where she can see into the past. It happens randomly, no one knows why or where. Brienna’s planned path doesn’t really happen and she finds herself embroiled in a mysterious family with a plan to rebel against the tyrannical king. There’s a lot of journeying and the plot takes a turn from the somewhat mystical side of things to political undertakings.
There’s very little action until almost right at the end. And actually very little romance. There are quite a few secrets and plot twists revealed that kicked raised the stakes as far as the plot was concerned. There was a good feeling of family coming together and even if it’s not your biological family – it’s the people around you who become part of you and your own chosen family.
My only misgivings were the characters were a little flat, I can’t say I was particularly mad about anyone. Other than Brienna I can barely remember anyone’s name. I do remember how much I enjoyed the novel. For a fantasy it wrapped up really well too. Though there are apparently two more books to come. It will be interesting to see where this one is going. I loved this so much I bought a finished paperback.
Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Children’s Books for approving my request to view the title.
Summer Thriller - Lies They Tell Gillian French - 4 Stars
Illustrations: Memories Wake Omnibus Selina Fenech (3 books in one – Memory’s Wake, Hope’s Reign, Providence Unveiled) 4 Stars
Water on Cover - Cruel Summer by Juno Dawson – 4 Stars
Over 5 Years Old - Siren's Call by Devyn Quinn – 4 Stars (published 2010)
Asian Author - American Panda Gloria Cho - 5 Stars
June July August Release - A Reaper At The Gates, Sabaa Tahir - 5 Stars
Realistic Fiction - A List of Cages, Robin Roe - 2 Stars
Reread - The Belles, Dhonielle Clayton – 3 Stars
Yellow Cover The Thousandth Floor, Katherine MgGee (UK paperback) 4 Stars
Someone Else's Pick for you - Time Shifters Episode one of the Chronicles of the Harekaiin (recommended by Lora's Rants and Reviews) – 2 Stars
Adventure - Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody – 1 Star
Set During Wartime - Reign the Earth by A.C.Guaghen – 4 Stars
Travel - Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier – 4 Stars
Freebie – The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas – 3 Stars
A book you've been putting off: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5 Stars
LGTBIA+: Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst – 5 Stars
2018 Debut: The Window by Amelia Brunskill – 4 Stars
Red Cover: The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen 2 Stars
Scifi: Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda – 3 Stars
Magic: Onyx and Ivory by Mindy Arnette – 5 Stars
Sequel - Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber 2 Stars
Blue Cover - The Dazzling Heights (The Thousandth Floor #2) by Katherine McGee (UK Paperback) – 4 Stars
Pirates - The Unbinding Of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara – 2 Stars
Religion - The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oaks – 4 Stars
Metalic Lettering – Give The Dark My Love by Beth Revis – 4 Stars
American Panda, Inkmistress, The Hate U Give, A Reaper At The Gates, Onyx and Ivory, Lies They Tell, The Window, Isle of Blood and Stone
Ace of Shades, The Unbinding of Mary Reade, A List of Cages, The Bird and the Blade, Legendary
Memory’s Wake Omnibus, Pitch Dark, Give The Dark my Life, The Thousandth Floor, The Dazzling Heights, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, Cruel Summer, Siren’s Call.
Review - Give The Dark My Love
I received a copy from Penguin's First to Read.
Initially I had mixed feelings about this book, mainly as the beginning was rather boring and seemed to have some fantasy tropes that are starting to seem rather overdone. However the latter half of the book took a darker turn and the end was pretty damn good and unexpected.
It starts off with the story's heroine Nedra is leaving her twin sister and her parents to head off to a posh academy she has earned a scholarship to to study alchemy. She comes from a poor village, and despite her reservations about leaving her family they all tell her it's the right thing to do and of course she's destined for greatness.
We learn there is a terrible plague sickness sweeping through the lands and there appears to be no cure, once the symptoms are spotted the sufferer is doomed. There are quarantine hospitals for the sick, the disease spreading mostly through the poor people.
Nedra didn't seem to have much of a personality at all really. She was nice enough, ready and willing to learn, and of course all the fancy rich students who attend the school look down their noses at her. Right away she manages to make a friend with a very rich handsome boy, Greggori And gains the attention of one of the most difficult professors to please.
It's just a tad bit eye rolling. And of course before long it's abundantly clear Nedra is far more talented than anyone initially thought she would. Much to the chagrin of some of the students. The plot is interesting enough as Nedra learns more about the plague and how alchemy can help the victims. The way the alchemy works a little stomach churning. But it seems to be the only thing doing some good.
There's a subplot going on along the lines of some of the wealthy rich men (including Greggori's father and his best friend and their family) don't like the fact that the island they live on is under rule by one Emperor who governs countless lands and empires. They want the island to be free so they can make their own laws. Doesn't help that the emperor is only a teenager. Nor do they like the new governor he has appointed to rule their island is a woman. (This comes into play much more later on the novel).
Nedra finds herself caught up in a search to find the cause of the plague which is becoming worse by the moment, and not just affecting poor people throwing everyone's theories on the origin out the window. This is becoming the sole focus of the plot. Along with Nedra's relationship with Greggori is of course growing into something more than friendship. Greggori is slowly starting to realise there's more to Nedra. And his own views on the side plot are changing.
The Governor makes a few appearances in the novel helping the sick at the hospital Nedra is working in and appears to be nowhere near as bad as the press and everyone else is making her out to be.
Biggest problem for me was Nedra is just so dull as a main character. Both she and Greggori are so wooden and uninteresting. I had no interest in their barely there slow burn romance (which is usually one of my favourite romance tropes) Nedra becomes almost dangerously obsessed with stopping the plague.
She finds herself using darker and more forbidden forms of alchemy - necromancy. This was where the plot really started picking up and I just didn't want to put the book down. I needed to know. Nedra becomes much more interesting and so meticulous and careful about her planning. Faced with a personal tragedy that seems to define a turning point for her.
I can't say I particularly liked her any more as a character but I could certainly empathise with her and completely understood her determination to find a cure, no matter where it took her. Though there is a fine line between using alchemy to help a greater cause but then finding something darker that works to a personal gain. There's definitely an interesting grey area that all logic seems to vanish over once things become more dangerous and intense.
There were some pretty epic twists towards the end that I did not see coming at all. And left at one hell of a cliffhanger. At one point I wasn't even sure I was going to bother finishing this book, but now I have to know what happens next!
A bit of a slow start but definitely worth sticking with.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I honestly don't quite know what to make of this book. Initially I was absolutely blown away with it, I have a weakness for mermaid themed stories and anti-heroines. Don't recall seeing the two combined before. Even better when it twigged this was dark Little Mermaid retelling.
I loved Lira right from the start - not a mermaid, but a siren. Deadly, fascinating and a total unapologetic bad ass. What's not to love? Known as The Prince's Bane Lira uses her siren gifts to lure unsuspecting Princes on ships to their death - where she rips out and collects their hearts. Her mother is the ruthless and unforgiving Sea Queen. The Sea Queen is a cold nightmare and nothing Lira ever does is good enough, no matter what.
Though despite her front of emotionless bad-assery, Lira has one weakness. Her beloved cousin Kahlia. Which comes in to play several times early on in the novel in Lira's battles with her awful mother. All Lira strives for is to be good enough to be named her mother's Heir. So far...not happening. Despite all the drama and attitude, there's an impression given that there's a lot more to Lira under the surface.
On the other hand, we have Elian, a Prince who has no interest in being a prince, he's an infamous siren hunter/pirate who would rather sail round the oceans with his crew ridding his world of the siren threat. After his first encounter with Lira, something of a disaster for both...it's completely obvious where the romance is going. Problem for me was on reflection, I really just don't like Elian at all. I found him flat and annoying. One thing I really liked was Elian's crew, tie deep camaraderie and friendship, their banter and absolute loyalty.
Elian learns of a mysterious crystal that will give him the power to rid the sea of the Sea Queen, there's a prophecy/curse to defeat. Problem is - the crystal is damn near impossible to find. Lira finds her path crossing with Elian, and when she finds out about the crystal, she wants it for her own purposes. They rub each other the wrong way - they are antagonistic as hell and bitching at each other for the first moment they meet. Lira is not happy finding herself with legs surrounded by humans. Who are naturally very suspicious of her - she has retained a few of her Siren talents - and uses them to her own advantage.
It's still obvious where the romance is going, but its so so slow while Elian and Lira figure each other out. Their characters both develop as the plot does, the search for the crystal and the means to find it. There's deals to be made with dangerous kingdoms, several unseemly and villainous characters come in with a role to play. There's twists and turns.
The world building is fascinating and very well written. The problem I found was after half way through I was getting more and more bored and it was taking longer and longer to get around to finishing it.
I'm not sure what to make of the end either. It concludes pretty well, though before then it got a bit messy in my opinion. I liked it, and would definitely read something by this author again, but I'm not as blown away by this book as I initially thought I was.
Thank you to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for approving my request to view the title.
I received a copy from Netgalley.
I remember very little about this book, other than I really hated it.
And was really disappointed because I was really looking forward to it as well. The weird title caught my eye when browsing on Netgalley, Pitched on the Netgalley page as ‘Silence of the Lambs’ for YA readers, that got my attention immediately as Silence of the Lambs is one of my all-time favourite movies.
Unfortunately for me, this book was just awful. Every serial killer cliché in the book. And an annoying heroine. The writing didn’t grab my attention and everything about it was very mediocre and boring. I wasn’t immersed in the mystery, after the first 20% or so I was quick reading and skimming just to know what the hell was going on.
To be fair at least when the novel starts the girl who’s the victim, Ari wakes up to find herself trapped in an empty cistern. Her panic is believable, and she is actually fairly resourceful in trying to figure out how to get out of there.
The narrative chapters flash back and forth between Ari waking up in the cistern and remembering what happened earlier that day trying to figure out what happened and who put her there. There’s also eye rollingly clichéd chapters from the killers point of view – the killer is isolated, has potentially abusive parents, forced to work hard on a farm, discovers very early on in life cruelty to small animals which is horribly depicted.
From then on, it gets kind of stupid and really boring.
The characters have no redeeming features, there was nothing outstanding about any of them. There was a twist when the true killer was revealed I actually didn’t guess. There’s quite a few red herrings thrown in as Ari goes through her suspect list, which should have been kind of obvious. Too bad the rest of the killer’s point of view were tropes so done and overused.
Just can’t really think of anything positive to say about this book really. Or anything much at all to say really. Not for me.
Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House Canada for approving my request to view the title.
Review: Savage Island
I received a copy from Netgalley.
This started out pretty good. A fairly interesting premise, it's a UK based horror novel - a group of teens enter a contest where the prize is one million pounds - each. The group will be whisked off to a reclusive billionaire's private island for some sort of survival contest where there will be a number of tasks to complete and other teams to compete against. Last team standing who complete all the tasks win the prize. Sounds pretty good, right?
If however, you're a horror movie fan like me and have seen more horror films than you can count or remember red flags should be going off immediately and the obvious question that should be on anyone's brain - what's the catch here? There has to be something that's going to go hideously wrong very quickly.
The characters are pretty ordinary teens, told from the point of view of Ben who lives with his younger brother Will and their divorced mum, pretty girl Lizzie, Ben's long time crush, and friends, Lizzie's BFF mouthy Carmen and smart guy Grady. There's something uncomfortable right off with Will, told in flashbacks - he's got some personality problems and is very manipulative, and cruel especially when he doesn't get his way. Ben's a people pleaser. The peace maker. Will manages to convince them to bring him along. He's very smart and resourceful and could be useful. Despite his sociopathic behaviour issues. Or I'm guessing all part of said personality disorder.
For a horror novel it's not scary in the slightest, (but that could be a personal feeling really as I may be rather jaded from having seen so many movies and read a fair amount of Stephen King which seems to be the yard stick I measure horror against). And while the novel was pretty silly there was something in the narrative that was enough to make me as a reader keep going to want to know what the point of it all was. To be fair it did manage to be pretty tense.
When the kids get to the island there's a list of tasks to complete, a riddle to be solved and a tithe to be paid before getting the instructions to the next point. The first team to clear the checkpoints, pay all the tithes and get to the final checkpoint by a certain time is the winter. The first tithe is a little gross, and if that's the first...how bad are the rest going to be? And what about the other teams competing? How far are they willing to go to win?
It all starts getting pretty despairing as things get more violent and go from bad to worse. It has some pretty eye rolling for fuck's sake moments, the plot manages like I said earlier to at least keep the interest alive. It is quite visually striking - it's very easy to picture what's going on as if it were a movie on the screen. Despite some eye rolling moments, the kids aren't stupid, they're fairly logical regardless of the growing panic and fear the worse the situation gets and the more threats that approach.
Problem was the kids had in my opinion zero personality to make them remotely memorable or likeable, with the exception of Ben and Will. We get flashbacks of their complicated relationship and unpleasant family history. They are the only ones who seem to get some sort of fleshing out.
What really let this novel down for me was the end. It was...stupid. The whole reveal of what was going on and the final body count....was like what the fuck did I waste my time on this for and was really disappointing.
While this is a standalone novel it's part of a group of UK YA horror called Red Eye, and despite the crappy ending, I sort of would recommend it if you like cheesy horror, which is pretty much what I gather the Red Eye series is. Or at least what I'm guessing I will find this series. I have a number of other titles to try in the series. While this title was by no means somethingI I will read again I do look forward to trying the Red Eye series.
The writing did show promise, so I would probably try something else by this author.
Thank you to Netgalley and Stripes Publishing for approving my request to view the title.
book shopping - today’s new book haul
Sequel - Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber
Blue Cover - The Dazzling Heights (The Thousandth Floor #2) by Katherine McGee
Pirates - The Unbinding Of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara
Religion - The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oaks
I'm changing my pick for Metallic letting because my Uk paperback of Children of Blood and Bone only has shiny silver lettering down the side not on the front. I'll use Children of Blood and Bone for the freebie square and the UK paperback of Renegades by Marissa Meyer for Metallic letting, (the uk paperback is covered in shiny metallic blue writing and decoration)
Changed again - Metallics - Give The Dark my Love by Beth Revis