Book Review

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I’m very late to the party with this one: Cinder is big, has its own fandom, and has been out for a while. But it’s never too late to fall in love with an awesome book, right?

Published 2012 by Puffin Books.

11235712Goodreads Synopsis: A forbidden romance. A deadly plague. Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .
CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.
This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.

My Review: Normally, I give it a couple of days between finishing a book and writing a review, but it’s been mere few hours and I JUST WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK. I’ve owned a copy of Cinder for so long that I can’t remember where I got it from – it’s certainly been on my TBR pile for too long. I wish I’d read it sooner!

After being in a reading slump for, well, months really, I decided I needed something a bit different to read. This totally cured said reading slump – I read the whole thing in a day. I was completely hooked on the story. Meyer is a fantastic writer, and this concept is really incredible.

If Cinder isn’t on your radar, here’s the basics: it’s a re-imagining of Cinderella, where Cinder is a cyborg mechanic in New Beijing, a city hundreds of years in the future. A plague is sweeping this future Earth, and Cinder discovers she has an important part to play in scientific research, but this sudden shift in Cinder’s life is a huge risk.

I was worried that the concept would be a bit cheesy and disjointed – how do you work the classic elements of the Cinderella tale into a story about a future with cyborgs? But, wow, it really worked. I was totally absorbed in the story, perhaps more so than any other book I’ve read this year. It’s richly imaginative and I’m envious of Meyer’s storytelling capabilities. The imagery was so vivid to me; every scene played out like an epic film in my head.

Cinder was a really interesting character. Her back story was woven into the story really well, and I felt for her throughout the book. She was so three-dimensional to me. The re-imagining of the classic Cinderella character is so clever, yet Meyer doesn’t rely on the fairy tale. Instead, her protagonist is full of individuality. The only thing that did irk me was her often overly sarcastic dialogue. I couldn’t work out her intentions in some chapters! But I really enjoyed reading about her all the same.

Overall, Cinder was fantastic. It’s definitely one of the best fantasies I’ve read in a long time. If you haven’t read this, I definitely recommend you do! Cinder is richly imaginative and gripping and hard to put down. I wanted to read the next instalment immediately after I turned the last page (luckily, my copy has just arrived… brb while I go binge-read this).

My Rating:

four and a half

I purchased a copy of Cinder.

Book Review

Graphic Novel Review: The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Published October 11th 2016 by Vintage Books.

28433627Goodreads Synopsis: In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.
But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay.

My Review: I have no idea why I didn’t get around to reading this sooner. I adored Greenberg’s debut, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, and this second graphic novel is set in the same world.

I decided not to read too much about the events of the book, so I could be surprised – and I pleasantly was! The One Hundred Nights of Hero explores a relationship between two women, one of whom, Cherry, is forced to prove her ‘purity’ to a wicked man. Hero guards Cherry, keeping the man at bay using secret stories every night.

I fell in love from the protagonists from the start; I want to read more about Hero and Cherry! I also unexpectedly found myself totally absorbed in the lives of minor characters from the short stories. Part four, a fantastical romance about the moon, was so moving to me. What I also loved about the story was the witty dialogue. Honestly, it’s just brilliant.

All of the stories Hero tells are cleverly interlinked and juxtaposed with the plot of the two protagonists. I absolutely adored the structure, weaving in and out of tales and Hero and Cherry’s nights. The overarching theme is about the power of storytelling for women – and it’s so beautifully done! This is a fantastically feminist take on classic fairy tales and stories.

This is set in the same world of Early Earth as Greenberg’s debut. Again, the world-building is impeccable. I’ve fallen head over heels for this setting: it’s so unlike anything I’ve read before, and reads like an instant classic. Greenberg’s artwork compliments the story beautifully, from the gorgeous layouts to the use of colour. She has such a unique style and I really love it! Enchanting is probably the best word to describe this book – everything is just so mesmerising. Greenberg’s world of Early Earth is on par with Gaiman and Pullman.

Overall, I would recommend The One Hundred Nights of Hero without a doubt. From its feminist themes, to its gorgeous artwork and captivating short stories – there’s something in here for everyone to admire. This graphic novel has cemented my love for Isabel Greenberg and I’m so excited to read more from her.

My Rating:

I received a copy of The One Hundred Nights of Hero. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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The Map of Bones Paperback Release | Extract

Related Posts: Book Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Tomorrow, The Map of Bones is being released in Paperback! It’s the thrilling sequel to The Fire Sermon, a fantastic fantasy debut I enjoyed a while back. To celebrate the second book’s paperback release, here’s a sneak peek inside the book if you haven’t delved into it yet – an extract I posted last year for the blog tour.


Spoilers for Book One

Piper and I sat near the entrance to the cave, watching the sun shrug off the night. More than a month earlier, on the way to the silo, we’d slept in the same hidden cave, and perched on the same flat rock. Next to my knee, the stone still bore the scuff-marks from where Piper had sharpened his knife all those weeks ago.

I looked at Piper. The slash on his single arm had healed to a pink streak, the scar tissue raised and waxy, puckered where stitches had held the wound closed. At my neck, the wound from The  Confessor’s knife had finally healed, too.

26174866In the deadlands, it had been an open wound, edged with ash. Was the ash still there, inside me, specks of black sealed beneath the scar’s carapace?

Piper held out a piece of rabbit meat skewered on the blade of his knife. It was left over from the night before, coated with cold fat, congealed into grey strings. I shook my head and turned away.

‘You need to eat,’ he said. ‘It’ll take us three more weeks to get to the Sunken Shore. Even longer to get to the west coast, if we’re going to search for the ships.’

All of our conversations began and ended at the ships. Their names had become like charms: The Rosalind. The Evelyn. And if the hazards of the unknown seas didn’t sink the ships, then sometimes I felt that the weight of our expectations would. They were everything, now. We’d managed to rid the Council of The Confessor, and of the machine that she was using to keep track of all Omegas – but it wasn’t enough, especially after the massacre on the island. We might have slowed down the Council, and cost them two of their most powerful weapons, but the tanks were patient. I’d seen them myself, in visions and in the awful solidity of reality. Row after row of glass tanks, each one a pristine hell.

That was the Council’s plan for all of us. And if we didn’t have a plan of our own, a goal to work for, then we were justImage result for the fire sermon scrapping in the dust, and there’d be no end to it. We might forestall the tanks for a while, but no better than that. Once, the island had been our destination. That had ended in blood and smoke. So now we were seeking the ships that Piper had sent out from the island, months  before, in search of Elsewhere.

There were times when it felt more like a wish than a plan.

It would be four months at the next full moon since the ships sailed. ‘It’s a hell of a long time to be at sea,’ Piper said as we sat on the rock.

I had no reassurance to offer him, so I stayed silent. It wasn’t just a question of whether or not Elsewhere was out there. The real question was what it could offer us, if it existed. What its inhabitants might know, or do, that we couldn’t. Elsewhere couldn’t just be another island, just place to hide from the Council. That might offer us a respite, but it would be no solution, any more than the island was.

There had to be more than that: a real alternative.


The Map of Bones paperback edition is released tomorrow (January 26th) from Harper Voyager.

Blog Tour

Shadow Magic Blog Tour: A Day in the Life of the Author

 

I’m welcoming author Joshua Khan, author of SHADOW MAGIC, onto the blog today! Read on to hear about his new book and his daily process:

shadow-magicAbout the book: Thorn, an outlaw’s son, wasn’t supposed to be a slave. He’s been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they’re headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire. Lilith Shadow wasn’t supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

JOSHUA KHAN: A DAY IN THE LIFE

I am woken as 7am by the soft harmonies of the choir, and the gentle breeze peacock fans. Somewhere, far from the kitchens in the east wing, drift the spicy scent of cinnamon. There is the buzz of the helicopter landing on the lawn with figs, fresh from the slopes of St. Enta in Sicily.
My butler arranges my wardrobe for today and I rise, carried aloft on the shoulders of the players of the Swedish volleyball team to the bath.
Ah, such is the life of an author…

Actually, no aspect of that is remotely true. So, reality check. Up at 7am. Tell the kids to get up. Down to sort out their breakfast. Make sure the hamster cage is well sealed, let the cat in. Cat tries to hug the hamster for a minute, then gives up. Tell the kids to hurry up, breakfast is ready. Start making their sandwiches. Get my wife’s bike out as she cycles off to work. I tell the kids to get a move on.
Tidy up breakfast. Get the kids’ bikes out. Tell them it’s 8am. Check on the hamster. Check on the cat.
Wave bye to the kids, telling them to put on their helmets. Look at the mess in their rooms and sigh deeply. Vaguely tidy up. Find the iPod the youngest thought she lost.
Shower and whip on my clothes. Add shaving if its Tuesday or Friday.
Okay, we’re not quite at 9am. Start working.
I plan the week on Sunday, writing goals, paperwork, and domestic chores. I try and keep the mornings to writing and nothing else. My aim is 2,000 words a day if I’m at the first draft stage. I don’t work weekends as that’s madness. I’ll get the first 1,000 done by lunchtime. I either eat or do some chores (there are always chores. People who work in offices don’t really understand the concept of working from home. But there are only so many hours in the day.). If I can get the chore done within the hour, I do it. If not, I don’t. Otherwise you’re losing writing time. I then hit the keyboards until about 3.30pm, then start sorting out supper.
Emails and random correspondence is done over the day. Now we have a tablet I do some of that correspondence work in the evening. I do not do any writing after 3.30pm, I shouldn’t need to if I’ve hit my 2,000 words. If I haven’t I will do another hour around 9pm to get it done.
So, supper for the kids and wife. Help with homework where I can, and where it’s needed. Evening activities, depending on the evening. Up till midnight browsing the social media, FB and Twitter. It’s not my fave past-time, but a lot of my readers are US-based, so there is the time-zone thing.
Discipline’s the thing for me. Right now I’ve two novels to finish, one to write from scratch, a proposal for a new book to create, two comic series to work on. I can’t dilly-dally. Why should I? The stories are so much fun! I’ve grand quests across the deserts filled with monsters and nomads and ancient cities, then sci-fi cricket adventures, retelling of epic myths and belly-dancing cyborgs. And I get paid for all this. I spent twenty years doing a job I loathed, so feel I’m owed this. I never answer the phone during the day and never, ever put the TV on. I remember losing a whole summer watching Breaking Bad. If there’s tv to be watched, books to be read, that’s at night, quiet time away from the keyboard.
Time off is critical. Weekends, except in emergencies or other constraints. I’ve a trip to Italy and a fortnight around the US in November, so that’ll be events and airports. The evenings tend to be dinners with people so there’ll be no writing done. Thus I’ve decided to put in a few hours every Sunday to cover. Pen goes down for Xmas and the summer hols. You need to recharge.
That’s it!

joshua-khanAbout the author: 

Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.

*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.

Book Review

Book Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Published September 2016 by Bloomsbury.

30367320Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave …
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate.

My Review: This book arrived unexpectedly, and I was really excited based on what the synopsis had to say! I knew of Danielle Paige’s work as Dorothy Must Die looks like a fantastic read, and has been on my radar for a while. So I started this not hugely knowing what to expect, not having read anything by this author before, but excited to see what it was like.

For the first 75 pages or so, I was hooked – I adore the set up for the story, from the slightly eerie institution Snow is locked away in, to the really well developed characters in the wards with her. I really loved exploring that world- the characters were all so interesting to me.

Unfortunately, a little way into the fantasy world of the story, I suddenly stopped getting as into the plot as I was at the beginning. I was incredibly absorbed at the beginning, but for some reason I’m just not sure of, I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the sort in the way I thought I would. The world of Algid and the magic and characters within was really intricate and detailed, but for some reason I couldn’t engage with it.

Snow was a really interesting character, because like with the whole story itself, I felt really involved with her in the beginning, but less so for the rest of the book. I think the story swept the detail away a little, and all I could really be told about her throughout most of the story was her newest insta-love feels. I feel like a lot of people will really love Snow, as she’s got many likeable aspects and I think that she’ll become an awesome heroine later in this series, given this book’s set up.

Overall, I would recommend Stealing Snow to high fantasy fans, like fans of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by S.J. Mass. Sadly, this book just didn’t click with me. It may partially be because I’ve been getting into contemporary fiction more and more lately, but I just couldn’t find myself engaging with or being excited about this book as much as I’d hoped. However, I’m sure I’m probably in the minority of people who disliked it, and that many fantasy fans will adore it 🙂

My Rating:

two

I received a copy of Stealing Snow from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Blog Tour

Children of Icarus Blog Tour: Caighlan Smith on Writing and Editing

I’m pleased to be introducing Caighlan Smith on the blog today! Read below for her guest post about her process of writing and editing her latest book, Children of Icarus. But first, a little about the book:
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Over to Caighlan!
Caighlan Smith photo 1You know the concept of binge-watchers? Well I’m a binge-writer. When I’m hooked on an idea I’ll write from the moment I wake up (half past noon) until dinner—or Coronation Street, whichever comes first. Then I’m back to writing and up late enough to justify waking after noon the next day. That’s my writing process; dive in and don’t look back until the first draft’s done. I only let myself reread what I’ve written if it’s been a while since I worked on the project, which doesn’t happen too often. I like to start a project when I know I’ll have a solid week to work on it without interruptions. So when I’m done the draft, my editing process starts. That used to involve crying and procrastination. Now it involves focus and only occasional procrastination. I’ve edited a lot on my own, and had experience with a bunch of different editors, and it’s all taught me how essential editing is to bettering a book, so it’s Children of Icarus high resnot nearly as painful as it used to be. To be honest, I actually enjoyed editing my new book, Children of Icarus. Prior to this I’d evolved enough to get through editing without tears and questioning the necessity of grammar, but do actually enjoy editing? That made me want to cry for an entirely different reason. It taught me that when you have an outstanding editor and a novel you really want to work for, editing is more an angel than a soul-sucking demon. Speaking of both of those things, they feature (in some ways) in Children of Icarus. The story revolves around a girl who ends up trapped in a labyrinth, which she believed would lead to paradise. With a group of other youths, she has to survive long  enough to escape—if escape is even possible.

Children of Icarus is out now in the UK from Curious Fox Books.
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cover reveal

COVER REVEAL: The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig

Related posts: Book Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig | Event Recap and Book Haul: The Fire Sermon’s bloggers event

It’s taking me a while to write coherent sentences for this post. I’m SO EXCITED GAAAHHHH. 

Around this time last year a mysterious looking proof copy arrived at my house; branded with an A on the front, for Alpha. I still think the proof copy campaign for Alphas and Omegas is the coolest thing I’ve seen a publisher do, and The Fire Sermon was definitely a hugely talked about (and brilliant) book. I really enjoyed it. And now, the sequel is released very soon!

Today is the cover reveal for Map of Bones, out on the 7th of February. So, here it is!

091246-FCT (1)

I love it – from the Alpha and Omega symbols in the title, to the eerie skull which I’m curious to find out the meaning of!

What do you think of the cover?

Have you read book one and will you be reading the sequel?

Be sure to leave a comment with what you think! 🙂