Thursday, 31 July 2014

Author Interview: Melissa Haag

Melissa Haag, the author if the very original novel Shadows and Light (you can find my review here) has done me the honour of an interview! I just so happened to love her book, giving it a full 5 stars so I can’t express how happy I am that she agreed to do this. Without further ado, here’s the interview:

1) Hi Melissa, thanks for sparing some time for this interview, can you tell us a little about your book Shadows and Light?
Thanks for having me, Anna! Shadows and Light is actually three short stories that carry a common theme: the light of dark of each heroines struggles.

2) What made you decide to write 3 novellas and combine them instead of 3 full-length novels?
They started at brain breaks while writing (Un)wise, book three of the Judgement of the Six series. The plotting for the series was really melting my mind, and I needed a diversion. Thus, Moved was born. Then, Reap the Shadows and Slay the light. Warwolf was actually a request from a friend. He wanted something with magic. :)

3) Can you pick which novella was your favourite to write and why?
They all have aspects I love. The dark intensity of Reap the Shadows and Slay the light wasn't something I'd written before, and I found I really liked it. Writing an emotional male in Warwolf had me laughing like a mad scientist at times. And the playful antics in Moved really hit a chord with me. I'm a bit of a prankster myself...just not to Gillian's level.

4) You have a range of characters in this book all with different voices, how hard were they to distinguish while writing or did they have clear character traits in your head?
I'm so thrilled you found their voices distinct. In my head, their voices are very unique. It should probably scare me that I'm hearing distinct voices in my head...

5) If you could swap places with any character from any book, including your own or another authors who would you choose?
Do I have to just pick one? lol

6) What is the best/most rewarding part of writing for you in general?
Hearing from readers. I love reading the reviews (good and bad), the emails, and the comments on my website. It makes the effort I put into writing, worthwhile.

7) How and when did you first realise you loved writing and wanted to be an author? What was the first thing you ever wrote?
I remember writing a story back in high school about a mountain man falling for a girl. Looking back, I think it was a little (a lot) stalkerish and creepy. I wish I could find it again but I moved too much and lost it along the way. 
I didn't realize I wanted to be an author until I published Touch and people actually started to read it. :D

8) Do you have any more projects in the works or can you share some ideas for future ones?
I'm still on a werewolf kick and loved the humour in Moved so I'm doing something along those lines with a more contemporary/New Adult feel. And writing the next book in the Judgement Series, of course. ;)

Quick Questions
Fan fiction yay or nay? Yay (I think it should be called Funfiction!)
Ebook or paperback? Ebook
Tea or coffee? Tea
Zombies or vampires? Zombies!

About the Author
Melissa Haag currently resides in Wisconsin with her husband and three children. Touch is her first published novel. She is currently working on book three of a separate five book series. To learn more about her upcoming projects, visit her at:
http://melissahaag.com

Connect with her on:
https://twitter.com/imagine2live
https://www.facebook.com/author.MelissaHaag
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22242692-shadows-and-light

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, which spotlights the releases we’re eagerly awaiting.

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13508415-mortal-danger?ac=1
Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1) by Ann Aguirre
Release Date: August 5th 2014

Goodreads Synopsis:
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...

This looks like nothing I’ve read before and it has definitely peaked my interest. From the author of the Razorland series which also looks like a totally unique concept, I expect Mortal Danger to be great.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: Getting a Life, Even if You're dead (No Going Back #1) by Beth Watson

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18633358-getting-a-life-even-if-you-re-deadGoodreads Synopsis:
*This is a young adult novel. Due to subject matter pertaining to teen suicide it is not recommended for middle grade readers, ages 12 and under.

If you died, could you live with your regrets?

When Kendra’s mother drags her to a creepy Paris cemetery for work, the last person Kendra expects to see is Amber, her best friend who moved away three years earlier. Amber helped Kendra through a dark time, and Amber’s departure was just one more loss for Kendra. Amber was Kendra’s confidante but it turns out Amber failed to share her biggest secret: she was dead. 

Amber never planned to disclose her traumatic past and true identity to Kendra, but a boy’s life is at stake. Amber is suddenly unable to connect with troubled kids and she needs Kendra to console Pierrot, a despondent boy who holds the answers to the suspicious death of his brother, Loic. Although Loic needs closure to cross over, the truth about his death might impact everyone’s future, including Kendra’s, since she has fallen for Pierrot, the mysterious boy and murder suspect.

But dead or alive, there is no going back…


Review:
***I received the eBook free as a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review***

Who could not be intrigued by the title of this book? You know from the get go that it has an interesting concept, and this runs true through the book. I did find that it took a little for the book to hit its stride and the beginning was touch and go, this might be because at the start Kendra seems a quite immature and therefore an un-relatable character. However this quickly changes with the novel and meant you could see her character develop into someone who isn’t so self-absorbed but understanding and appreciative of everything she has.

This book was also written in dual POV, both Kendra and Amber, so while Kendra was being a bit touchy it was nice reading about Amber who even though has less pages in her POV the book is essentially about her. She has a really interesting background and it was nice trying to pick up all the hints, until the end where you still don’t know all the gritty details.

The end seemed to conclude everything nicely, and then keep one thing wide open for the next book and I haven’t seen this done many times before because authors tend to either go for the major cliff-hanger, or having everything tied up in a big happy bow (I’m generalizing obviously). It was great that Beth Watson strayed from this, and I actually hope more authors do in the future.

Getting a Life, Even if You’re Dead is a great paranormal/coming of age story, where even the dead have their chance to grow and find meaning in a life they can’t help but resent. It was surprisingly fun even with the subtle threads of teen suicide running through, which wasn’t shoved in your face with the author’s opinion and was instead done artfully letting the characters run the story. This is why it had the lighter feel to some parts; the characters while still in their upper teens tended to seem quite juvenile, in an enjoyable way.

I would very much recommend this to the YA fan base, because even if you don’t see the deeper messages about love and death it doesn’t detract from the book. I think this is why people will take this book differently, and appreciate it differently, but still appreciate it’s a good book.
Favourite Quotes:
“Too bad a guardian angel hadn’t been around to show me that I didn’t have to die to achieve a sense of worth.”

“You could be with someone and still feel alone because you were never fully connected to them. Story of my life.”

“Love wasn’t something you should take for granted like oxygen. It is more like…sunshine. When the sun was shining, it lit up your life, making you feel good all over. And it could majorly depress you when it wasn’t out. So you had to appreciate it when it was there.”

Friday, 25 July 2014

Review: Shadows and Light by Melissa Haag

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22242692-shadows-and-lightGoodreads Synopsis:
Reap the Shadow, Slay the Light I don't know what I am, but I'm not human...and neither are the creatures that killed my mom. Running will only carry me so far because there's a darkness within me, ready to destroy me, and a burning light, begging for escape. It's the light that screams to my pursuers and works them into a frenzy. Though the darkness might kill me, releasing the light might kill us all... 

WarWolf: Half breed Ema fights to suppress her werewolf emotions and deny her warlock powers. It isn't easy being a half-breed, but she is determined to slide through life unnoticed by either group. When the warlock leaders team up with humans to force paranormal registration, Ema believes she must choose between her two unwanted worlds. An unexpected companion shows her not all emotions are bad, and power has its benefits.

Moved "Werewolves are real but the legends are wrong..." It's the secret Gillian's father has tried to keep from her and the reason he's so overprotective. But, he goes too far when he exiles Gillian to a house in the middle of nowhere. Her new landlord, Racer, is more like a cute jailer who has strict orders to keep her safely trapped. Battle lines between independence and obligation are drawn as Gillian decides just how far she's willing to go to win back her freedom. And Racer needs to decide what he's willing to endure to keep her close.


Review:
I haven’t read many books made up of individual, unconnected novellas; only novellas that are part of a series, so this was new but really exciting. I found it was actually really easy to get into the different stories even being really short which my one worry was. Saying this though, they were each about 80 pages so still a decent length (but not long enough).

Now, to be honest I wasn’t quite sure how to review this book, whether to do mini-reviews for each novella or a general one but since the 3 synopsis above are better descriptions than I could have done without spoiling too much I won’t go into that kind of detail.

The characters were all well-developed so (and I know I will keep referring back to this) even though they’re not described to the extent they would in a full length novel, you had a good feel for them and could understand where they were taking the story. Melissa also managed to convey the story brilliantly well, with no sudden information drops that you’d expect from a novella with no series backing it up. This meant it kept an even pace, and this worked for all 3 novellas.

I have to say the concepts were equally as good, and not the classic vampire/werewolf/angel stories which made it interesting. I have nothing against those stereotypical paranormal stories and if you’ve seen any of my reviews you’ll know I love them, but everyone wants that unique story which will stand out from the rest and stay in your head. Melissa did this effortlessly, with not just 1 but 3. If they were full length novels I’d still read them in a heartbeat, but it was nicely done this way I’ll admit (I almost forgot they were novellas and when the last one abruptly finished it took me a while to get over it!).
Favourite Quotes:
“You are mine. You are the light to my darkness… the reason for my continued existence.”

“You’re trying so hard to deny what’s inside you that you don’t know who you are anymore.”

“Yummy had been hiding under a layer of cranky-pants. I really hoped I would see less frowning and more abs from now on.”

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Author Interview: Martin Dukes

I’m really excited about this interview because I love Martin’s book Caught in a Moment which you can see from my review if you haven’t already checked it out here.

1) Hi Martin, thanks for sparing some time for this interview, can you tell us a little about your book Caught in a Moment which is the first instalment of a trilogy?
'Caught in a Moment' is the first episode in a series that describes the experiences of fifteen year old Alex Trueman, as he faces a series of increasingly testing challenges and discovers that he has unique and constantly evolving powers. His adventures take him into a number of strange and exciting places and his journey is enlivened by encounters with some very scary villains, bent on various schemes of wickedness up to and including the destruction of the universe. He soon finds that the universe is arranged according to rules very different to the principles that he has learned at school. Time, in particular, behaves in a dramatically different way. Alex is a daydreamer, someone whose hold on Reality is already a tenuous one. In the trancelike state of his daydreams he accidentally slips into a new place, ‘Intersticia’, a parallel universe that exists in the gaps between moments in time. From this vantage point the world around him appears to be frozen. Alex finds himself trapped here together with a few fellow daydreamers and others whose presence there derives from more tragic events or more sinister activity. The book recounts his adventures in Intersticia, his gradual discovery of those strange powers latent within him and his attempts to intervene when the shadow of death falls across that place.

2) The idea for Caught in a Moment is so original, what was your inspiration?
Like many people I’ve always been fascinated by the prospect of time travel and have read a great many books on the theme from HG Wells to Asimov. Many years ago, when handling a roll of 8mm movie film it struck me that time could perhaps be thought of as a series of consecutive moments rather than as a smooth, uninterrupted continuum. Leading on from this was the idea that the spaces between the moments, the interstices, might constitute a universe of their own in which time operates differently. I like to think it’s an entirely novel premise for a book but they do say ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’ so it’s quite possible someone else thought of it before me.

3) If you could stop time for an hour what would you do?
That’s a question of considered on many occasions and “Caught in a Moment” is to some extent an elaboration of my own ideas on that issue, ones that I have fantasised about since I was a schoolboy myself. Naturally, the potential for practical jokes would be tremendous but also the opportunity for wickedness or for seeking personal gain. Anyone who had such an opportunity and time to plan for it would face a stern test of their character. If I could stop time right now – well, it’s been a ridiculously busy week and a busy day so far. I think I’d put my feet up, make myself a nice cup of tea and read a good book until time gets going again.

4) How and when did you first realise you loved writing and wanted to be an author? What was the first thing you ever wrote?
In a drawer somewhere I still have a book I wrote when I was ten years old. This was called “The Adventures of George and His Friends” which tells the story of a duck and various other animals on what amounts to a road story. This epic yarn is written in my own fair hand and copiously illustrated using felt tip pen in a manner creditable enough for one of such tender years. I remember entertaining younger relatives and siblings by reading from it. Various chocolate smears and sticky parts suggest that they sometimes got to read it for themselves. I’ve been writing ever since, although it has only been in recent years that I have felt confident to extend my potential audience beyond the realm of sticky-fingered five year olds.

5) What can we expect for the second/third instalment in the series?
The second volume of Alex’s adventures is entitled “Worm winds of Zanzibar” and is already published. In this episode Alex spends only a little time in Intersticia. Instead he is transported to a version of 19th Century Zanzibar that exists in a parallel universe and in which history has evolved along somewhat different lines. His powers have come to the attention of some dangerously unpleasant people in the angelic realm of Elysium, a world already introduced in the first book but here described in more detail. They recognise in Alex a missing piece in a jigsaw of power that they have been trying to assemble for millennia. As well as avoiding the clutches of these enemies Alex also has to navigate the perilous politics of Zanzibar and escape disaster in the form of a natural cataclysm that threatens that world. Alex evolves in terms of the growth of his powers but also in terms of his character as he responds to the various threats that come his way. 
This process of personal growth and evolution is completed in “Angelic Upstart”, the third and final volume. I intend to publish this during the course of the summer. In this episode Alex discovers the full extent of his powers but finds that there is a hugely challenging trade-off between power and responsibility. I suppose the central theme of the trilogy as whole is the relationship between these two concepts. I try to imagine what it would be like to find oneself in possession of god-like powers and I use one schoolboy’s personal journey to illustrate the triumphs and the tragedies that might occur along the way. I hope that the conclusion is ultimately a satisfying one.

6) How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
My wife tells me that Alex has characteristics she recognises in me too. When I was at school I was also moderately clever but lazy and under-achieving with a tendency to daydream. Alex fits this description rather well but I think that's as far as it goes. I don’t think his actions and attitudes necessarily reflect my own, either as a fifteen year old or at any time since. I certainly never set out to write myself into the story. I suppose Alex’s character is one that I felt I could relate to on a personal level and this made it easier to write about him. It must be much more difficult to write a main character who is utterly different to yourself. 
My other characters are an amalgam of people I have known. A little like Mr Potato Head they are assembled from various bits and pieces, but in this case a variety of experiences and observations to make up distinct personalities. I had many friends like Henry who were better than me at sport (a large category!) and who seemed better equipped to navigate the complexities of teenage life.

7) What are some of your favourite movies, and what actors/actresses could you see playing the main characters from your book?
I loved the Hunger Games movies and I can see the feisty Jennifer Lawrence playing the role of Kelly. Alex isn’t obviously heroic material, however, at least not from the beginning. He needs to find the hero within him and would need time to develop the confidence to take centre stage. I think Jamie Bell might creditably do the job. I was a big fan of his role in “Jumper”. Although the film itself was far from universally acclaimed I really liked the ideas in it. One of my favourite movies of all time was The Green Mile, with magical performances by Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan. Right up there at the top is Groundhog Day, another story that plays games with time and features an unforgettable starring role for Bill Murray. I watch that movie over and over again, which is kind of appropriate really!

8) What scenes were your favourite and least favourite to write?
That’s a tricky one. When I’m writing I’m not really conscious of finding particular parts of the task less enjoyable than others. Once I get myself into the right frame of mind writing takes on an impetus of its own and it’s sometimes hard to stop. I guess it might come across to the reader if there were any parts that I hadn’t enjoyed writing so much. It’s easier to pick out favourite parts. I love writing the action scenes, when the pace of things picks me up and I’m carried along with it on a wave of adrenalin. I feel there are times when a book almost writes itself. It’s like it was in there all the time and you just had to let it out. I enjoy the funny bits too. If I had to pick a few lines from the whole of 'Caught in a Moment' I think I’d pick the few lines you singled out as a quote when you were reading it. This is when Alex is horrified to find himself eating snark. I was delighted you appeared to like that part too.

Quick Questions
Fan fiction yay or nay? Nay for me. I prize originality.
Ebook or paperback? Paperback. You can instantly see how far you are through it.
Tea or coffee? Coffee. I have a Nespresso machine. Superb!
Zombies or vampires? Depends on the context. I imagine a vampire would make for a more stimulating dinner party guest. Yeah – let’s go vampire on that one.

About the Author
Martin Dukes is a writer and teacher based in the UK, with a keen interest in history and all things military. In addition to actually teaching Art and Design, he designs the publicity and marketing material for his school in Birmingham. When he is not writing or wasting his time playing computer games he likes to travel, eat things that are probably bad for him and collect models of military aircraft. His ‘Alex Trueman’ trilogy, of which ‘Caught in a Moment’ is the first volume, reflects his interest in history and in science.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15848288-caught-in-a-momenthttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17466746-worm-winds-of-zanzibar

Review: Caught in a Moment (The Alex Trueman Chronicles #1) by Martin Dukes

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15848288-caught-in-a-momentGoodreads Synopsis:
Caught in a Moment is the story of Alex Trueman, a teenager who daydreams himself unwittingly into the strange world of Intersticia. This is a world outside of ordinary time, that exists in the slender intervals between instants. From Alex's point of view the world around him freezes into immobility. At first it seems that he alone is free to wander the hushed streets with their motionless cars and people. But he is not alone. Alex soon discovers that he shares the world with others. There are a few dozen fellow daydreamers who share his fate. There is plump, bespectacled Will, pretty brunette Kelly, and the rebellious outcast Paulo. Presiding over them all is the enigmatic Ganymede, and irascible vagrant who distributes food to his dependents and sets them perverse tasks to perform in return.

Alex soon finds that he has rare skills in Intersticia. Most uniquely he can affect the motionless world of 'Statica' around them. He can open doors, help himself to food, and move objects. But this forbidden activity soon sets him on a collision course with Ganymede in which the very existence of Intersticia is put at risk.


Review:
***I received the paperback as a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review***

I admit that I have a thing for books that involve/focus on varied use of time, whether it’s stopping it or backtracking etc. So when I saw this book in a goodreads giveaway I just had to have it! Then goodreads decided to be a pain in the ass and give it to someone else, but all was not lost because after chatting to Martin Dukes I have my very own signed copy! (I have now forgiven goodreads).

It is everything I thought it would be; aka great. The writing is so fluent and engaging that from the get go you are engrossed in the characters stories. I think this is always an accomplishment for an author because when you use the first few chapters as an introduction to the characters personalities, and don’t dump the reader straight into the action, personally I’ve found that the book can lose my attention before it even begins. Thankfully this wasn’t the case with Caught in a Moment and the light humour was just as entertaining as the action further on.

There were of course times when what I thought was supposed to be jokes (flying seals/whales… you can’t blame me) ended up being vitally important to the story, and actually it all made sense as you found out more about Intersticia over the course of the novel. “Intersticia” is a world trapped between two instants, an “interstice”, and this is where our protagonist Alex has been deserted.

After figuring out his power to stop time he of course has a little fun with it. Humiliating the school bullies and confusing the teachers is I think what we’d all do if we could stop time ourselves, I know it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what I’d do. So Dukes captures the essence of teenagers perfectly and Alex turns out to be a highly relatable and simply great character with a vivid personality that leaps of the page.

The ending was a very abrupt finish for the characters and while this may have been the idea, a little epilogue wouldn’t have hurt… I did love its finish though, because Dukes stuck with his story and characters; he didn’t try to over dramatize it like some authors think they need to just because it’s the end.

As a standalone it was appropriate and while I wouldn’t say no to a sequel, it was satisfying so I’ll have to make do with reading any other books of his.

Wait, wait, wait.

Looking up his other books I found that Caught in a Moment is not indeed a stand-alone but the start of a trilogy! I can’t believe I read the whole book and didn’t realise once! Anyway, I can’t wait to read this ground-breaking sequel called “Worm Winds of Zanzibar” (even just the name has me intrigued). But back to Caught in a Moment, well, I think it’s safe to say I recommend it!
Favourite Quotes:
“Alex had returned home to find a most unwelcome development, which had arrived through the letterbox in the superficially innocent form of a brown envelope. It might as well have been a letter bomb for its explosive impact on Alex’s day. It contained his school report.”

“It was clear from looking at him that Will’s relationship with cake had been a passionate and enduring one.”

“Alex nodded. This did indeed make sense, providing that one was prepared to cast away all that three hundred years of scientific discovery had set in place.”

“He shook his head slowly. “I can’t believe I’m having this conversation.”
“I know, it’s weird, isn’t it? It’s like a dream but it isn’t. It’s all too real. For days when I first got here I kept on pinching myself to see if I could wake myself up.”

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

ARC Review: Lark Ascending (Skylark #3) by Meagan Spooner

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11558268-lark-ascending?from_search=trueGoodreads Synopsis:
Lark thought returning home to face her city was the hardest thing she'd ever do. She was wrong.

No longer the girl who ran for her life, Lark's ready for the Institute. She never dreamed she'd find a rebellion, a Renewable, and those she used to love embroiled in the fight of their lives. She's mastered her magic, but she still doesn't know if she can master the darkness stirring inside her. 

Nothing is simple anymore, and finding her place in this war—and discovering the terrible secrets behind her ruined world—might cost her everything she has left.


Review:
***I received the ARC eBook free as a review copy from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review***

As the third and final instalment of such a well-received series, there’s got to be a lot of pressure to finish it in a way that readers are satisfied with but still fits the characters and the story; so I can do nothing but applaud Meagan Spooner. It has the perfect ending, I can’t stress that enough and I was unbelievably relieved after so many disappointing final books in trilogies. If anyone could do it, it would be Meagan, and my God she did!

The action as well as tension that were forever constant in the previous books continues and with even more twists Lark Ascending is a one sit read for sure. I stayed up until 1:00 in the morning to finish with no regrets.

It wasn’t just the storyline that made the book so engaging but the characters that have developed so much, particularly Lark. She is such a brave female heroin, even with the darkness inside her; but if anything I think this proves her strength. She’s constantly battling her own darkness, while protecting Oren from his, not to mention fighting and part-time leading the war. As if that’s not enough for one girl to handle, her allies might not be true to her and her enemies might have different motives. I’m surprised she has enough energy to get out of bed in the morning.

Oren of course helped. He was always by Lark’s side, ever faithful, and even when he no longer needed to feed off her magic he was there; a constant source of strength and reminder of what she was fighting for. It was great seeing how their relationship developed when it was tried and tested time and time again. The way they learnt to trust and depend on one another is something all relationships need, particularly in the YA genre where infatuation turns to insta-love in the blink of an eye. There was always the option of a love triangle with Kris but Lark never had eyes for anyone but Oren and this stayed true to her character so nothing was forced.

In this book you meet new characters and welcome back old ones, in a thrilling climax that ties everything together beautifully. A must-read for fans of the series, and I’d easily recommend all 3 books to any YA reader; whether you like dystopian, fantasy, steampunk, this book/series has it plus more.
Favourite Quotes:
“My home is you,” Oren whispered, his arms tightening around me while I cried. “You think you’re alone – you think that’s your punishment for all of this, for being the one to save mankind from itself. You think I don’t see that, but I know you, Lark Ainsley. I know you.”

“There never was any hope,” Caesar muttered.
“There was, before you destroyed it.”

“He grimaced back, and for a moment it was a little easier to pretend we both believed there’s be an “eventually” to look forward to.”

“We won’t fade quietly into this darkness.”

Monday, 21 July 2014

Review: The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13568619-the-shadowhunter-s-codexGoodreads Synopsis:
The Clave is pleased to announce the newest edition of the Nephilim’s oldest and most famous training manual: the Shadowhunter’s Codex. Since the thirteenth century, the Codex has been the young Shadowhunter’s best friend. When you’re being swarmed by demons it can be easy to forget the finer points of obscure demon languages or the fastest way to stop an attack of Raum demons. With the Codex by your side, you never have to worry. 

Now in its twenty-seventh edition, the Codex covers it all: the history and the laws of our world; how to identify, interact with, and if necessary, kill that world’s many colorful denizens; which end of the stele is the end you write with. No more will your attempt to fight off rogue vampires and warlocks be slowed by the need to answer endless questions from your new recruits: What is a Pyxis? Why don’t we use guns? If I can’t see a warlock’s mark, is there a polite way to ask him where it is? Where do we get all our holy water? Geography, History, Magic, and Zoology textbook all rolled into one, the Codex is here to help new Shadowhunters navigate the beautiful, often brutal world that we inhabit. 

Do not let it be said that the Clave is outdated or, as the younger Shadowhunters say, “uncool”: this new edition of the Codex will be available not only in the usual magically-sealed demonskin binding, but also in a smart, modern edition using all of today’s most exciting printing techniques, including such new features as a sturdy clothbound cover, a protective dust jacket, and information about title, author, publisher, and so on conveniently available right on the cover. You’ll be pleased to know that it fits neatly into most satchels, and unlike previous editions, it rarely sets off alarm wards. 

The old woodcuts and engravings have been replaced as well: instead, you’ll find lavish modern illustrations by some of the brightest luminaries of the fantastic. Creatures, weapons, people, and places have been carefully and accurately rendered by the likes of Rebecca Guay, Charles Vess, Jim Nelson, Theo Black, Elisabeth Alba, and Cassandra Jean. Chapters are beautifully introduced by the drawings of Michael Kaluta, and along with our condensation of the classic 2,450-page tome, A History of the Nephilim, you will find a selection of the best of the lovely illustrations of that volume by John Dollar. 

This edition of the Codex will be available in Institute libraries and what mundanes sometimes call “book stores” in [SEPTEMBER], 2013.


Review:
Just like the synopsis says this is for the large part a manual. So obviously there’s lots of chunks of information and while this was interesting, you pick up a lot of the facts when you actually read the series so I think it may have been better as a sort of reference guide for newbies to the Shadowhunter world. Unlike me of course ;)

That’s why it was quite a slow read compared to Cassandra's other books but if you're a fan of the series you'll love it. The commentary on the sides from Jace, Clary and Simon was by far my favourite part because I love their characters to bits and their personalities shone through even when all they wrote was 3 words! Oh here I go again; I’m starting to sound like I believe they’re real (sorry for popping anyone’s bubble there).

The beautiful art and annotations definitely made it worth the read and I even found myself laughing on occasion; not just because of the annotations/corrections but the actual codex had a sort of irony to the writing which I loved.
Favourite Quote:
“This codex intends to provide you, the newly minted Shadowhunter, with the basic knowledge you will need to survive and understand your new world and your new people.”

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Review: Shadowlark (Skylark #2) by Meagan Spooner

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11558256-shadowlarkGoodreads Synopsis:
Ever since she escaped the city within the Wall, Lark Ainsley's wanted one thing: to find her brother Basil. She's always believed he would be the one to put an end to the constant fear and flight. And now, hidden underground in the chaotically magical city of Lethe, Lark feels closer to him than ever. 

But Lethe is a city cowering in fear of its founder, the mysterious Prometheus, and of his private police force. To get the truth about what happened to Basil, Lark has no choice but to face Prometheus.

Facing her fears has become second nature to Lark. Facing the truth is another matter.

Lark never asked to be anyone's savior. She certainly never wanted to be anyone's weapon. She might not have a choice.


Review:
I think Meagan Spooner must pride herself on being able to shock her readers into gaping at her books like goldfish because it didn’t just happen in Skylark. She lulls us as readers into a false sense of security, where you’re nodding along thinking it all makes sense and you know what will happen with not a thread of doubt. Then BAHM! You don’t.

I have given up trying to work out which characters are bad/good, never mind their motives because every, single time I was wrong. You’d think I’d learn wouldn’t you? If you think of the most unexpected, extravagant idea for a plot twist, go for the opposite. The simplicity of the twists fit in the story perfectly and I found myself flicking back through the pages oohing and aahhing to myself about how it all made sense now.

That wasn’t the only thing I like about this book though, because I have to say that Meagan Spooner’s beautiful writing stole the show. As I mentioned in my review of Skylark, the imagery she creates is so vivid that you feel as though you’re living through the character. You not only feel every emotion as if it’s your own, but the surroundings suck you into a new world; it’s what you look for in a book.

I thought the world was completely set in the first book, because in a way with Lark’s city and The Iron Wood being so poles apart it was basically 2 worlds in 1 (if that makes sense) but then Spooner introduces Lethe; a city so different from the others yet so similar it’s brilliant. Even at the very end Lark doesn’t understand how the cities are the way they are.

Then again Lark doesn’t understand much about what’s going on. Her character is unbelievably strong but the naivety she brought from her city never truly left. She seems to run headfirst into danger, never truly realising her worth to those around her even after being consistently used and betrayed because of it. It’s in Lethe that she realises she’s had enough. To be honest I can’t blame her. With the way people talk about her as if she’s no more than a weapon to be used at her own risk, a saviour even sacrifice for the people who look at her with disgust never seeing her as more than a monster to be feared, it’s a wonder she lasted so long. I respect that.

I would suggest that you read this book soon after Skylark because I’ve seen reviews where the reader found it hard to get back into the world with all its specialist terms after so long. The only reason this didn’t happen for me must have been because I read it straight after Skylark since they’d both already been released (and I couldn’t wait).
Favourite Quotes:
“My heart constricted. Suddenly the Institute’s methods didn’t seem quite so monstrous. After all, what would I give to feel safe again every day, to know nothing could get me, that my family could sleep safely? How much would I sacrifice? My own safety? My life? My freedom?”

“There was so much I wished I could say – that I was glad he’d chosen what he did, that I was glad he was fighting for me, that if we survived tomorrow I wanted us to stay, or to go, or to do anything, as long as it was both of us together. But the words stuck in my throat.”

“The magic doesn’t give you a weapon,” he said softly. “It gives you a choice.”

“It’s not about just saving ourselves – we have to be worthy of salvation.”

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Review: Skylark (Skylark #1) by Meagan Spooner

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10352973-skylark?from_search=trueGoodreads Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Lark Ainsley has never see the sky.

Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children's innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.

Forced to flee the only home she knows to avoid life as a human battery, Lark must fight her way through the terrible wilderness beyond the edge of the world. With the city’s clockwork creations close on her heels and a strange wild boy stalking her in the countryside, she must move quickly if she is to have any hope of survival. She’s heard the stories that somewhere to the west are others like her, hidden in secret—but can she stay alive long enough to find them?


Review:
Meagan Spooner has hit the nail on the head with this book. It has the originality that everyone craves for in the YA genre with so many dystopian and paranormal books being released; the concept makes it standout like nothing else could.

The idea of a government that uses the Harvest as a rite of passage for children to pass into adulthood following with the rest of their lives is very interesting. I should mention that the Harvest is when children are stripped of their magic which then goes to powering the machinery, along with supporting the walled dome surrounding the city. No one knew what they were being protected from, and they didn’t see what they were being forced to do as wrong because tragically they knew no different. Lark Ainsley was the same, until she sees past the government’s lies to the real sacrifices being made; and she refuses to be sacrificed.

In a way Skylark is a journey of self-discovery but considering that she never discovers the full truth of what/who she is, I don’t think it really counts. Lark is a likeable heroine if a little na├»ve, but Spooner portrayed this well with the way she subtly hinted at Lark’s lack of general knowledge about the times before the war, and outside the wall.

One thing I can say for sure is that Lark has a seriously bad taste in boys, maybe you could class it as bad luck but either way I don’t see a very good future with either Kris or Oren. Without giving away why this is, and boy do I want to, I’ll say that it’s hard to tell someone’s motives when they’re just as confused about them. Mysterious enough for you?

Nix is another character I really liked, and it/his/her (I always thought of Nix as female but being a machine Spooner always said “it”) presence saved the book for me. Near the beginning when Lark is wondering through the woods alone, even beautiful writing like Spooner’s can’t always prevent the dragging feeling, and I’m so grateful that Nix’s had such an entertaining personality if you can call it that. When Oren enters the picture this is changed completely, and you look forward to those scenes where you see just a little more of him, and I would never have seen this myself had I given up.

This book is well worth the read, particularly if you are the kind of reader who likes a book they can sink into and walk alongside the character on their journey feeling every desperate moment and aching heart like it’s your own. Spooner’s imagery is incredibly vivid and leaves nothing to the imagination, which I loved and if this is the same for you, definitely go and pick this book up.
Favourite Quotes:
“Vis in magia, in vita vi.” In magic there is power, and in power, life.”

“I don't want to be kept safe! I don't want to have someone constantly trying to keep me from tripping on my own incompetence. I want to live in a world where I know the rules, where people are just people. Not one where they keep trying to eat me. That's the reason I left the city in the first place. I don't want to be kept, not by anyone.”

“With a pang, I realized I missed more the feeling of belonging than I missed my actual family – I had never realized that even as the odd one out, I was still a part of a greater whole.”

“I’d spent my life until now as a cog in one person’s machine – could I turn around and become the instrument of another.”

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, which spotlights the releases we’re eagerly awaiting.

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17331828-talon?from_search=true
Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa
Release Date: October 28th 2014

Goodreads Synopsis:
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

How could I say no to more of Julie Kagawa’s work? She is a genius with words, and I loved both of her series Blood of Eden, and The Iron Fey so the chances of not liking her Talon series? None, no matter the plot (which looks good anyway).

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Teaser Tuesday (7)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read.
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20873418-the-lost-kingdom
The Lost Kingdom (The Elements Series #1) by Stephanie Beerden

"So she left the room and closed the door, trying not to make it creak again. She never noticed two annoyed ice blue eyes watching her leave."

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Review: Rouge (Rouge #1) by Isabella Modra

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18139344-rouge?from_search=trueGoodreads Synopsis:
“You have a fire inside of you.”

Hunter Harrison desperately hopes her guardian Joshua is joking when he confesses – very solemnly – that she is pyrokinetic. Hunter would normally laugh in his face, if it didn’t explain all the spontaneous fires that happen only when she’s nearby. Still, the logic is a little hard for a smart, socially isolated eighteen-year-old to comprehend. That is, until Joshua explains the truth behind her parent’s death.

Spun into a new life filled with cold truth, terrifying wonder and a mountain of responsibility, Hunter faces the flames dwelling inside her. But the fire is more deadly than Hunter can comprehend. It explodes when she’s angry. It erupts when she’s afraid. And, worst of all, it threatens the life of her boyfriend Eli, who is innocently unaware of her abilities.

So how does an extraordinary teenager juggle dealing with superpowers between work, graduating and keeping her hormones in check?

Simple. By fighting fire with fire.


Review:
***I received the eBook free as a review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review***

I have no idea where I got the idea that this was a fantasy novel because it was about superheroes through and through. Usually I don’t like these kinds of books because it’s the typical good-guy-beats-bad-guy routine that I try my best to avoid, but as I received it for free by the author I thought it deserved a proper read so I battled through Hunter being the most hormonal teenager I have ever read about.

It took me a while to warm up to Hunter, because in a way she was too relatable. Her reaction (more like freak out) to finding out that magma flowed through her veins is understandable, I would have a mental breakdown! But you want book heroines to be stronger than that, even when they are going through the whiny teenage girl stage, you don’t want to listen to a load of complaining about how hard life is and every other self-pitying phrase you can come up with.

Eventually though her strength shone through, and you could understand where Eli was coming from when he called her fiery (her temper was definitely fiery, no pun intended). And on to Eli. He was, well he was perfect. The classic caring geek immediately captured my heart, so I understood how Hunter fell for him so quickly.

In the end, even with an annoying protagonist I did enjoy the book. It is the reason why it got 3 stars instead of higher (something I didn’t think I’d consider after figuring out it was a superhero book). Even with how much I didn’t like Hunter, I do understand why the author tried to make her more “human” than other authors have with their protagonists and it will also open her up to more development as the series goes on. Which I will definitely be reading, (actually I’ve already started), because that cliffhanger was torturous. WHY? JUST WHY! Why do authors do that to us?! I know it’s because we’re kind of crazy and like it, but still! The epilogue revealed whole new sides of characters, and without revealing anything I’ll just say that I hope he/she makes the right choice.
Favourite Quotes:
“He sounds like a poem.”
“He is. There are no flaws about him.”
“Honey, everyone has flaws.”

“So he did the only thing he could think of doing; he pulled her to him once again, wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. That way, she couldn’t see the tears that were spilling from his eyes.”

“Fate, God, whoever, had cursed her with no real family but gifted her with a purpose. And it wasn’t until now that Hunter realized that.”

“You said to never give up on what you believe in. And I believe in us, Hunter. I’ve never been so sure of how I feel about anything in my entire life.” His strange green eyes swarmed with passion and warmth. “I’m in love with you.”

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, which spotlights the releases we’re eagerly awaiting.
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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17904985-gates-of-thread-and-stone?from_search=true
Gates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone #1) by Lori M. Lee
Release Date: August 5th 2014

Goodreads Synopsis:
In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

This book sounds very intriguing and has all the aspects of a perfect book; I only hope it lives up to this synopsis. It’s also Lori M. Lee’s first book, but we know it is a series with a sequel scheduled for 2015. I’m already thinking ahead for the series when I haven’t even read this instalment… which hasn’t even come out!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Review: Half Bad (Half Life #1) by Sally Green

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18621194-half-badGoodreads Synopsis:
Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy's struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.


Review:
The sign of a good book is when the characters feel as real to you as someone who is actually real.
The sign of a good book is when you can’t stop thinking about it after the last page.
The sign of a good book is when you would die for the sequel to be released the next day.
So you know what? Half Bad = a good book.

I freely admit that it might not be for everyone; the elements of torture inflicted on “children” particularly when written in the second person definitely turns stomachs. I’m no exception, and that’s why I loved it (worried how much that says about me…). Everything was so dark including Sally Green’s writing with the second person that worked brilliantly in involving you in the story. It’s great when books suck you into the story, and I know I won’t be explaining it properly when I say you literally live it.

Another aspect I loved that is always vital for a good book was the world. The background had a rather dystopian feel with the white witches ruling, and basically killing off every black witch who’s unlucky enough to be noticed. Our main protagonist Nathan is half white witch, half black witch on his father’s side; who just so happens to be the most feared black witch in the world. It might have something to do with the touch of mass murder. Might not (but probably is).

Nathan is then feared and hated, forced to endure a life that no one let alone a child should live, so I was overjoyed he could find light in his world through Annalise. She’s sweet and everything but it was hard to get emotionally involved, especially for the amount of time you see her. Nathan on the other hand is so easy to imagine and picture, you can feel his emotions flowing off the pages enticing your own in return. I wanted everything to work out for him so much that every, single time he hit a hurdle his pain mirrored my own.

I can’t wait to see where Sally Green takes his story, and after this brilliant debut I can safely say that I will be in on what looks like a hell of a ride. I just wish it wasn’t so far away…
Favourite Quotes:
“The trick is to not mind. Not mind about it hurting. Not mind about anything.”

“The floorboards and I are old friends. I look to them for the answer. They are never much good at stuff like that, though.”

“Never underestimate the enemy, Nathan. Never.”