Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Buddy Review: Vicious

V.E Schwab
viviousVictor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Posted by Faye and Caroline

Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 340
Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline and Faye
Source: Borrowed
Challenge:None
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Cassandra Rose Clarke’s Favourite Flawed Queens

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Cassandra Rose Clarke (see my reviews here), so you can imagine my excitement when Big Book Little Book was given the opportunity to host the latest stop on the blog tour for Cassandra’s latest book,The Wizard’s Promise.

One of the things I really admire about Cassandra’s writing is her ability to write strong but flawed female characters. I was delighted when Cassandra agreed to share her favourite flawed Queens with us.

the wizards promiseAll Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch – but unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.
As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.

It’s become a trend lately to say one’s favorite female characters are flawless. Usually this descriptor is paired with queen, as in, “Ripley from Aliens is a flawless queen.” I’m certainly guilty of doing this myself, usually on Tumblr. But the truth is most of the characters I call “flawless queens” aren’t actually flawless at all—and that’s exactly why I love them so much.

Flawed characters are more interesting to me as a rule, regardless of gender. A perfect character is dull and inoffensive, a bit like a meal at Chili’s. Utterly forgettable. A flawed character, on the other hand, will grab your attention and won’t let go. Consider movies like Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean: in both you are presented with a bland hero, ostensibly the main character (Luke Skywalker and Will Turner, respectively). But who grabs our attention? Who do really remember when we talk about of the theater? That’s right—it’s Han Solo and Jack Sparrow. That’s the power of the flawed character.

Of course, Han and Jack are both men, a trait they share with a lot of the favorite flawed characters out there in the world. Today, I want to focus instead on flawed female characters, a rarer beast. So without further ado, I present you with my Top Eight Flawed Queens:

rosa_diazRosa Diaz, from Brooklyn 99: Rosa is such a classic anti-hero type in the vein of Han Solo and his male brethren, only she’s a lady. A fabulous, fabulous lady. Let’s see: She’s secretive and mysterious. She has a horrible temper and responds to IT problems Office Space style, with destruction. Her coworkers frequently refer to her as “scary,” and she can bring the meanness when she’s of a mind. But she’s also loyal to her friends, and although it will take some wheedling, willing to admit she’s made a mistake. Plus she wears a bad ass leather jacket.

Sansa Stark, from A Song of Ice and Fire: A lot of people reading these books tend to relate to Arya, but I was always much closer to Sansa when I was younger, and so she has a special place in my heart. I don’t consider femininity and politeness flaws (just the opposite, in fact), but Sansa can be incredibly naive at times, and she frequently makes poor decisions based on her ideas of how the world should be, rather than how it is, particularly at the beginning of the story. However, as her arc progresses, we see her learning from her mistakes, and coming to understand how her strengths—the aforementioned femininity and politeness—can help her thrive in a misogynistic, violent world.

harriet_welschHarriet M. Welsch, from Harriet the Spy: Harriet is the first flawed character I ever fell in love with—male or female. I read this book around the same time I was devouring The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High, and as delightful as those series are, they really don’t bring the flaws in their main characters. Harriet, though, is a piece of work. She’s nosy (I mean, c’mon, it’s right there in the title). She’s intractable. She cares more about the truth than she does tact. She yells when she doesn’t get her way. And yet all those qualities make her incredibly relatable, and at the end of the story, when she realizes just how important friendship is, what could have been a saccharine after-school-special type message becomes resonant and powerful.

Hermione Granger, from Harry Potter: She’s brilliant, yes, but she’s also a know-it-all and overly obsessed with her grades. One of her most famous of lines — “Try not to get killed, or worse, expelled”—sums up her general attitude fairly well. However, as a teenager fearful of authority, it was also basically my motto when I was in school, so I understand. Hermione would have been tedious if she had not been given those minor flaws and streaks of relatability. Was she a bit over the top? Sure, along with every other character in that series who didn’t have the initial H.P. But those flaws were what made her interesting, and let’s face it: she would have been a better protagonist than Harry.

Margot_TenebaumMargot Tenenbaum, from The Royal Tenenbaums: Margot is beautiful and talented, but she’s also secretive to a fault, and she lies to her family about her habits, simply, it seems, to prove that she can. She’s unfaithful to her husband and in love with her brother (she’s adopted). There’s a lot about Margot that should make her thoroughly despicable. And yet the film portrays her sympathetically, as someone whose flaws exist largely because of the difficulties of growing up with a father like Royal Tenenbaum. Margot is one of my favorite characters of all time. I love the beautiful complexity of her personality, and the way she slowly changes over the course of the film.

Mindy Lahiri, from The Mindy Project: Mindy is a great everygirl character. She’s a bit neurotic, a bit lazy when it comes to exercise, and a bit too focused on men. She’s also overly in love with romantic comedies, like, to a fault. However, she’s a fantastic, caring OB-GYN (and better still, we get to see her work: in the first episode, she delivers a baby with skill and aplomb). Mindy is a wonderful example of a character who is good at her job but perhaps a bit flawed in her personal life—except the show allows her to be much more than that, too.

Nancy-Botwin-CarNancy Botwin, from Weeds: Nancy is a suburban mom who starts selling marijuana after her husband dies so that she won’t have to give up her wealthy lifestyle—or uproot her kids more than she has to. In many ways Nancy is the quintessential female flawed character for me. She makes some pretty terrible decision throughout the run of the show, and she can be selfish, naive, and rash. But at the same time, her actions often come down to a desire to protect her family, and she learns and grows from her mistakes. As with so many of the ladies on this list, she’s a beautifully complex, fully-realized character.

Gloria Pritchett, from Modern Family: Gloria is the sexy, vivacious wife of an older man on a sitcom. This scenario doesn’t normally lend itself to complexity of character. And yet Gloria is given depth and flaws that round her personality beyond Stunning Eye Candy. She’s prideful and won’t back down from her opinions even when the evidence contradicts her, and she can be a bit grudgy (although not too much). She also has a terrible singing voice, although that doesn’t stop her from enjoying her karaoke machine.

Guest post by Cassandra Rose Clarke

cassandra rose clarkeCassandra Rose Clarke grew up in south Texas and currently lives in a suburb of Houston, where she writes and teaches composition at a local college. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in English, and two years later she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2010 she attended the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle, where she was a recipient of the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund.
Cassandra’s first adult novel, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, was a finalist for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award, and her YA novel, The Assassin’s Curse, was nominated for YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons and Daily Science Fiction.

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Interview With Danielle L. Jensen

If you follow Big Book Little Book you will already know that I loved Stolen Songbird ( read my review here), the debut novel by authorDanielle L. Jensen. You will therefore understand how excited I was to be given the opportunity to interview Danielle as part of her blog tour!

stolen songbirdFor five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.
But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.
As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, Stolen Songbird. I absolutely loved meeting Cecile and Co and I cannot wait to read the rest of the Malediction Trilogy. What have been the high and low points of your journey to publish author?
Thank you! I’m so glad you connected with the Trollus crew!!
High points of the journey have been signing with my agent, getting offered a book deal by Strange Chemistry, seeing my cover for the first time, and hearing positive reactions from readers. Low points were the many, many query/partial/full rejections I received over the years.

With her stunning singing voice and her unfortunate predicament of being kidnapped, Cecile is the aforementioned “stolen songbird”. Which animal best represents your personality?
Probably a donkey or a mule. I work hard, but I am known for occasionally being a stubborn a$$. Heehaw!!

During her incarceration in Trollus, Cecile empowers herself through the pursuit of knowledge, trying out many different activities in the process. Are there any activities that you have always wanted to try, but have yet to attempt?
I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano. I have zero musical talent.

I really loved the detailed and absorbing world building- the aesthetics, the social structure, the mythology- you created in Stolen Songbird. Can you tell us about some of your inspirations for Trollus?
I pilfered quite a bit of it from 18th century French culture, although by no means should anyone try to hold me to the standards of accuracy expected of a historical novel, especially since I know I’ve plucked bits of inspiration from 19th century France for the second book, the Paris Opera being a big one. It would be fair to say that France is a huge inspiration: the excesses of the monarchy, the focus on fine arts, and the revolutionary spirit of the people – I don’t think anyone reading the novel could miss it. I’m slowly building a Pinterest board with images, but it’s not done yet.
As far as the setting goes, that is a strange and unexplainable product of my mind palace. Yes, I’ve been dying to use that phrase – it’s so gloriously pretentious.

I was really impressed with the attention you paid to the secondary characters, fleshing them out and explaining some of their motivations. I also felt as though the friendships were treated with as much importance as the romantic elements of the story. If you had to choose to befriend one of your own secondary characters, who would you pick and why?
Thank you! I adore Marc, but I’d probably choose to be friends with the twins because they’d be the most fun to hang out with.

I absolutely loved Tristan and Cecile’s chemistry and how the differences in their personalities complement each other. Tristan is a meticulous planner, and a bit of a control freak, while Cecile is much more impulsive. When it comes to your writing are you a plotter or a panther?
They are foils for each other, that is for certain!
I am a pantser at heart, but I had to provide synopses for book 2 and 3, which was very tough for me. I like to have certain key scenes outlined in my head and then to make up the rest on the fly.

Who are your favourite literary couples/friendships?
Tessa and Will from The Infernal Devices
Cole and Isabel from Shiver Trilogy (and the upcoming Sinner – so excited for that!!)
Gansey and Ronan in The Raven Cycle
Verity and Kittyhawk in Code Name Verity

I loved the pacing and tone of their relationship and was beyond delighted that Stolen Songbird didn’t contain even a hint of “insta love”. What is your least favourite romantic cliche?
Clichés don’t bother me if they are well executed, but obviously they can be a bit lame when done poorly. I have lots of pet-peeves, but almost all of them are related to crappy character development or lackluster world-building.

As I have already mentioned, I am already excitedly anticipating the 2015 release of book two in the trilogy. Are you able to give us any hints about what to expect?
I’m really excited to finish writing it – there will be champagne when I finally hand that one in. As it stands (pre-editorial), there are substantially more chapters from Tristan’s POV in the second book. You’ll also find out a lot more about the world outside of Trollus.

Thank you so much for popping by and answering my questions.
Thank you for having me!

Questions by Caroline

dannielle jensenDanielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.

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Stolen Songbird

Danielle L. Jensen

stolen songbirdFor five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.
But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.
As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

What is it that first attracts you to a book? For me it can be an eye catching cover, a favorite authors latest release, or the recommendation of bloggers I trust, and at other times, as was the case with Stolen Songbird, it is a synopsis which promises something unique, which sparks my curiosity and heightens my anticipation, causing me to re arrange my TBR pile, abandon my plans for a goodnights sleep and dive straight in.

Even better when that attention is not just caught, but is wrestled in to submission and then, meeting my expectations, holds me captive for the duration of the book. Before I had reached the end of the first chapter of Stolen Songbird, I knew that I had found something special and, despite the rather precarious situation our heroine had found herself in, I couldn’t help a big goofy grin.

Cecile was a fantastic protagonist. Yes, she was a talented singer who had been foretold as the breaker of a centuries old curse (wait until you read how well that turns out!) and yet there is something quintessentially normal about her. She is prideful, strong headed and inquisitive- but with good reason- She empowers herself through the acquisition of knowledge. She recognized that things must change, and that she has a role to play, but doesn’t jump in without some trepidation and consideration.

Cecile’s first person account was peppered with Tristan’s ( the aforementioned troll prince) observations and thoughts. Tristan with his complicated, contradictory behavior, has his meticulous eye on the long game, the question is, which Tristan- the sarcastic, bored, egotistical prince or the garden stalking, peacekeeper, revolutionary- is the real Tristan?

I really enjoyed how Cecile and Tristan’s personalities collided and complemented each other. I loved that there wasn’t a single hint of insta love and that each increment of trust, of friendship, of affection was hard, if not amusingly, won.

While I adored our protagonists Cecile and Tristan, I was most impressed with the amount of time the author dedicated to fleshing our secondary characters. Each was allowed to express their personalities, to exist independent of our main protagonists- a very likeable male character with a tragic backstory a heart of gold who offers the hand of friendship without a hint of love triangle, a admirable female rival, a despicable villain with questionable but clear motivations. I am as excited to learn the fates of the supporting cast as I am that of the main protagonists.

I really loved the world building in Stolen Songbird. From the stunning aesthetics, the political intrigue, and complex social structure, through to how Trollus was grounded in familiar but uniquely interpreted history and mythology. All of which combined to make a really absorbing world.

I found it particularly interesting to experience the juxtaposition of the ugly cruelty and maliciousness of the Trollus society in contrast to those elements that were beautiful and commendable.

I started the book with the expectation that I would read a few chapters before bed, unfortunately the story had other ideas. I was held ransom by the beautiful story telling, the wonderful world building, the likeable, flawed characters and a slow burning relationship, which kept me on my toes.

I was unable to put the book down until I had reached the final page. Even then, despite the late (or should I say very early) hour and after more than 400 pages, the book felt far too short.

Thankfully Stolen Songbird is the first book in the Malediction trilogy, and so I know that there is plenty more to come. Has the author made it easy for me to wait out the next installment? What do you think?! Stolen Songbird is a book that ends on the kind of cliffhanger that has you madly searching for more pages. Just like that I found my self fully invested in another trilogy.

Verdict: Trolls, magic, rebellion, a hidden kingdom, a complicated Prince and an inquisitive heroine – this gorgeous grownup fairytale ticked all of my boxes.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: April 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 324
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut author
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Cover Reveal: The Illusionists

We are absolutely delighted to be a part of this fabulous cover reveal for The Illusionists, by UKYA author Laure Eve.

ILLUSIONISTS_PBA shocking new world. A dangerous choice. Two futures preparing to collide…
Having left White behind her in Angle Tar, Rue is trying to make sense of her new and unfamiliar life in World. Its culture is as baffling as is it thrilling to her, and Rue quickly realises World’s fascination with technology can have intoxicating and deadly consequences.
She is also desperately lonely. And so is White. Somehow, their longing for each other is crossing into their dreams, dreams that begin to take increasingly strange turns as they appear to give Rue echoes of the future. Then the dreams reveal the advent of something truly monstrous, and with it the realisation that Rue and White will be instrumental in bringing about the most incredible and devastating change in both World and Angle Tar.
But in a world where Life is a virtual reality, where friends can become enemies overnight and where dreams, the future, and the past are somehow merging together, their greatest challenge of all may be to survive.

The Illusionist is the sequel to Laure’s Debut novel, Fearsome Dreamer and it is to be published by Hot Key Books in July. To learn more about Laure and her work, visit her Goodreads author page (here).

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Finish It February: Week Three Roundup

FinishItFeb1
Personal Target: Finish/get up to date with four series

Books read this week: One

Total books read: Three

Series completed for challenge: Two

General feedback: So, yet another busy week in my household. I don’t know why I thought that I would get more reading done this week, considering that it is half term and I have two busy small people to entertain!

I am really not sure how successful next week will be as I have two books I need to read for Bookish Brits videos before I can return to the challenge. On the positive side, I have a week of annual leave (no night shifts, yey!), which means that I can afford a late night or two to squeeze in some more of my neglected novels.

Regardless of how successful next week is for my #FinishItFeb targets, I am really happy that I have managed to complete two fabulous series and I am really glad that I have taken the time to make (however small) a dent in my TBR pile.

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

bitten kingdomIn the final volume of Carson’s trilogy, the 17-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.
Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion – a champion to those who have hated her most.

Compared to some of the books on my shelf, five months isn’t such a long time for one of my preorders to languish on my shelf. Never the less, I am so MAD at myself for not reading this book sooner. I love this series and I have no excuses, NONE.

At over 400 pages, The Bitter Kingdom was a substantial final instalment to a wonderful fantasy series. I loved how the story was allowed to play out at a natural pace, no corners were cut, no plot line was rushed or unexplored, the world building just as detailed and sumptuous, and the relationships as messy and realistic as the previous two instalments, And yet, despite it’s size the pages just flew by and it was over far to soon.

I simply didn’t want the series to end and I finished The Bitter Kingdom with the desire to grab The Girl Of Fire And Thorns off of my shelf and read the trilogy back to back.

As with the previous two instalments, I was most impressed with the character development, particularly Elisa who continued her journey a from self conscious girl, to blossoming young woman to become a confident woman, a powerful sorceress and a commanding monarch.

The romance *sighs* the romance was everything I had hoped for since book one. I am a very happy bookworm.

Verdict: A Fitting end to a fabulous fantasy series

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 448
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Finish It February

To learn more about Finish It Friday and to join in visit our link up post here. To follow the challenge on Twitter search for #Finishitfeb

Posted by Caroline

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Unhinged

A.G.Howard

unhingedAlyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.
That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.
If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

Ok before I attempt to review this book I would just like to say that it is 02:00 am, I only finished reading it a few hours ago and am still basking in it’s awesomeness. And to now be asked to try and put all the mixture of amazing thoughts I have running through my head into words is perhaps a little too much. Infact it may be almost impossible and crazy. As netherling crazy as it would be to harness the power of a smile. But hey if our dear Alyssa could do that in Splintered, then who am I to not attempt this task mere human that I am.

I started reading Unhinged and all it took was a few sentences for me to once again tumble down the dark rabbit hole that A.G.Howard created, only this time the fall was darker, deeper, scarier, far more dangerous and by far one of the most thrilling and riveting rides I have ever been on. This fantastic author was quick to throw me back into Alyssa’s reality and into Wonderland.

We left Alyssa with a seemingly temporarily solved situation, with two worlds more or less under control (as much as you can control a world that does not respond to logic), with a choice made as to where she wanted to live her life and who she wanted to spend it with. It has now been a year and all the lines drawn by those choices are beginning to blur, as the dark tendrils of netherling insanity creep through the cracks of broken mirrors and rabbit holes into our light and rule abiding world. The world Alyssa chose, the half of herself that she decided to live by. But can you really choose a half when both are just different sides of the same coin, the same soul? Alyssa is confronted with overwhelming decisions of the heart, the mind and for the kingdom that she can no longer ignore.

Each page, each sentence was laced with bright clashing colours that despite their light showed a darkness and insanity to them but in a non threatening way. Every aspect of this book was perfectly written to suit the characters and the tone of this thrilling read. Every comparison and description was done using the most absurd and yet perfect means delivering at each and every turn just the right picture, feeling and sensation to make me feel on the brink psychosis but without having completely lost track of where I am or what’s going on. The entire book dances and skirts on the edge of pure genius and madness, flirting with one whilst bluffing to be the other, when actually the whole time it was both all along and when you realize it it’s already too late and events have occurred. All the while the bigger picture is one step ahead of you, because to reach it would be to reach pure madness, or genius depending on which side of the line you’re on.

The best way I can depict to you this book is by quoting a line from the book itself: Unhinged is a truly awesome story with it’s “logic wrapped in nonsense”, that only a partially unstable but brilliant mind can unravel.
I fell in love head over heals with the vivdly coloured, darkly mysterious, dangerous and yet enthralling and enrapturing Splintered. And I was afraid that the sequel would fail to reach the very high set standards. But I can draw a sigh of relief and can tell you all that it is just as brilliant as it’s predecessor, and now all I want to do is dive back into this fantastic world and never come back. And you know what? It may be 02:00 am but I just may very well re-read the whole thing because it’s all so delicisouly dark and devious, and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a little mad. All the best people are 😉

Verdict: I highly recommend this series to you all. Take a tumble down the dark brightly coloured rabbit hole, play with devious and alluring Wonderland creatures and put your mind to the test and see if you want to resurface from this read.

Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: ARC
Pages: 394
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Netgalley November: Week Three Round Up

netgalleynovember3Personal Target: To read and review eight netgalley titles and improve my approved/feedback rating

Number of books read this week: 2

Running total of books read: 7

Netgalley Approved-Feedback: 58.5 %

Currently Reading: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Feedback: Despite illness (my children’s and my own), last minute vlog filming (once my voice returned) and distraction in the form of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars and Lisa Desrochers’ A Little Too Much, I am actually on track to fulfil my target of eight books! I have even managed to avoid the lure of Netgalley and have not requested any new titles *raises hand in anticipation of high fives*.

Crossing by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

crossing
He stole her lipstick…and her heart. Twenty-year-old Dani Walker can’t believe her luck when she’s paired up with the gorgeous Liam Garrett as her Acting I scene partner – or when he ends up in her bed. Being a Plain Jane with a mouth on her hasn’t exactly served Dani well in the guy department. In fact, she’s had nothing but one night stands. Still, she lets go of her insecurities and falls for Liam, despite feeling like he’s holding something back. When Dani finally discovers Liam’s secret, she must learn the true meaning of accepting the ones we love for who they are, or risk losing the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

I don’t think that I am spoiling the book in anyway by talking about Liam’s big secret. One look at the title and the first line of the synopsis and most people are going to realise what forms the tension at the heart of the book. Then they are going to make a decision about wether or not the book is for them. If you find yourself uncomfortable with the subject matter, I really hope that you look beyond your initial nervousness and give Crossing a try.

At its heart Crossing is a well written and moving contemporary romance between a snarky, self deprecating, intelligent, and creative girl and the gorgeous boy who can keep up with her. A boy who just happens to enjoy wearing women’s clothing.

When I walk down the street with my short hair and my “uniform” of jeans and converse, I doubt very much that anyone is speculating on my gender identity, my sexuality or my femininity, In fact I doubt I warrant an initial thought, let alone a second one. A man walking down the street in feminine attire ?… A second glance is probably the best treatment he can expect.The other end of the wedge; discrimination? Ridicule? Suspicion? Fear? Violence?

I have witnessed conversations among intelligent and otherwise open minded individuals, who just cannot understand why someone would choose to dress outside of their perceived gender. Or at least why a man would choose to dress like a woman.I suspect that this has as much to do with the value society places on the feminine as it is to do with nervousness of the unknown.

In Crossing, the author took great pains to divorce Liam’s cross dressing from his sexuality and gender. Liam does not have a transgender identity, he isn’t described as “trying to pass as female” in fact he is in every other incidence portrayed as being very masculine. It is not about sex, or sexual fetishism . Both Liam and Dani are hetrosexual and while the physical side of Dani and Liam’s relationship appears to be stimulated by Liam’s cross dressing, my feeling is that for Liam it was less about the clothes he was wearing and more about Dani accepting him in his entirety. By Liam’s own admission, cross dressing for him is about syle and preference and a desire to wear and enjoy pretty things.

On the one hand you could see these choices as the author simplifying the issue or making it more palatable to a wider audience, either of which I find acceptable. The story is ultimately about love and acceptance and not an exploration of the complicated subject of cross dressing. On my part, I choose to believe that the author was creating a character which conflicts with as many preconceived notions as possible. I applaud Stacey Wallace Benefiel for writing Liam and Dani’s story and bring the subject of cross dressing in to mainstream YA literature.

Verdict: I think that it is safe to say that Crossing is a Marmite read. For my part I love Marmite and I loved this unique contemporary romance.

Publisher:Write Free
Publication Date:May 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 154
Genre: Contemporary romance, Cross dressing
Age: New Adult/Mature YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: Netgalley November

Legacy Of A Dreamer by Allie Jean
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]Chantal Breelan’s past is a mystery, and her future is even more uncertain. She can’t recall why she had been taken from her parents, leaving an empty hole where her childhood should have been. When she
awakens from her nightmares, she’s left with terrible, violent images and believes something may have happened to her that her mind tries to forget. One night at a subway station, Chantal meets a young boy who flees to a dark subway tunnel, and she’s compelled to follow him. But this Rabbit Hole reveals a world
where reality is everything her nightmares have been forewarning.
Mathias is a descendant of an ancient being and beholden to wage an unfathomable war against an primordial evil, spawned by greed and spite. A powerful fighter, he and his brethren of Warriors vow guard the most precious, piercing light against the darkness –the females of their kind. The Warriors’ pledge is to find and protect their sisters and kin. Long have they fought, shedding sweat and blood, hoping that their struggles are not in vain. Yet in his sacrifice and service he may find life’s ultimate reward – a love to surpass all time.

Legacy Of A Dreamer is a difficult book for me to review. I feel as if I have just read two books, or at least the same book by two different authors.

On the one hand I loved the premise of this book. The plot was interesting and engaging and at times the narrative was vivid, atmospheric and deliciously creepy.

On the other hand, the execution of the plot just didn’t work for me. The dialogue felt forced and clunky and as much as I wanted to root for the relationship between the protagonist, Chantal, and her warrior protector, I just didn’t feel it.

Verdict: I’m in two minds about continuing this series. I really want to know what happens next, but I don’t think that the authors writing style is for me.

Publisher: The Writers Coffee Shop
Publication Date: June 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 179
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: Netgalley November

Reviewed by Caroline

To learn more about the reading challenge and to sign up visit here

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Bookish Brits: Buddy Review Of Deception

In the first of (what I hope to be many) our buddy reviews for Bookish Brits (subscribe here), Faye (Visit her fabulous book blog here) and I discuss Deception, the second book inC.J Redwine‘s Defiance Trilogy.

deceptionBaalboden has been ravaged. The brutal Commander’s whereabouts are unknown. And Rachel, grief stricken over her father’s death, needs Logan more than ever. With their ragged group of survivors struggling to forge a future, it’s up to Logan to become the leader they need—with Rachel by his side. Under constant threat from rival Carrington’s army, who is after the device that controls the Cursed One, the group decides to abandon the ruins of their home and take their chances in the Wasteland.


But soon their problems intensify tenfold: someone—possibly inside their ranks—is sabotaging the survivors, picking them off one by one. The chaos and uncertainty of each day puts unbearable strain on Rachel and Logan, and it isn’t long before they feel their love splintering. Even worse, as it becomes clear that the Commander will stop at nothing to destroy them, the band of survivors begins to question whether the price of freedom may be too great—and whether, hunted by their enemies and the murderous traitor in their midst, they can make it out of the Wasteland alive.
In this daring sequel to Defiance, with the world they once loved forever destroyed, Rachel and Logan must decide between a life on the run and standing their ground to fight.

Outtakes:
What happens when you take one awesome YA fantasy, two over excited book bloggers and two caramel latte’s and leave the camera rolling…

Posted by Caroline and Faye

Publisher: Atom
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline and Faye
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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When The World Was Flat (And we were in love)

Ingrid Jonach
when the world was flatLooking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.
But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.
When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

I can’t quite put my finger on what initially grabbed my attention with Ingrid’s novel but I think it may have been the title. The play on words about the world being flat and there being love whilst now the world is round and bigger and far more complicated seemed to promise a whole dimension of intricacies.

And indeed so it was, but not in the way I’d expected.

To be completely honest with you although Ingrid Jonach’s love story was lovely it was rather simple and straightforward in itself. That said I take nothing away from it. But what truly made me appreciate this book was the symbolism that was woven into it and the concept behind it.

In this story initially Tom and Lillie’s love is like the world Lillie thinks they live in. As the title implies to Lillie the world is (metaphorically speaking) flat. It’s uncomplicated and three dimensional, what you see is what you get and is beautiful in its simplicity. But Tom knows better, and this world is not flat, in fact it’s not even round. To use his words as he teases Lillie “the world is hexagonal” and it is about to challenge Lillie’s beliefs and herself as an individual.

Ingrid chose to narrate this story from Lillie’s point of view but written in retrospect. The Lillie who tells us the story is the one at the end of it and although she attempts to keep in mind the thoughts of the Lillie at the time of the story occasionally she does slip up, and admits that what she thought back then when the world was flat was very mistaken and blissfully naïve. The recounting of her story was done in an almost clinical manner, and although she says how she felt the feelings felt delivered in a distant manner. Although this style of writing felt detached to the present day characters and limited my ability to bond with them, it allowed to underline the symbolisms, themes and bigger meaning of the tale.

For me the true beauty of this book did not lie in the characters themselves or their story but the world around them and how it affected them and their love. The way Lillie always repeats key words three times like a mantra, almost as though she needs the reassurance that everything is true, almost as though she already knows that something in this reality is off kilter. The way in which she turns sounds into words because her reality is speaking to her and warning her. How a love that transcends time and life is beautifully simple, because love in itself as a concept is not complicated. It’s the people and the world around them that taint it and twist it. So when the world is flat everything is smooth and straightforward, like it’s surface. But when you make it round, give it three dimensions….. everything is possible, and love becomes complicated.

Verdict: Reading this novel brought me back to my time at school in English literature where I learnt to appreciate the beauty and the intricacies of themes and subtleties left behind by the author to make us wonder and reflect.
Reviewed by Pruedence

Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: August 2013
Format: eARC
Pages: 272
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Pruedence
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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