Tag Archives: fantasy

Reasons to Read: Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I was ecstatic when I was given the chance to read Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo’s latest book. It’s beautifully written and riveting and I can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks of it. I could ramble on about it forever in a generic review post – but here’s a short summary of why you need to go find a copy right now, in a graphic form. Enjoy! Click for a larger image.

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

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Book Review: Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Make sure to scroll down after my rating – there’s an awesome bonus thing about this book! 

Published 4th June 2015 by Hodder.

25001544Goodreads Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Delilah is finally united with Oliver—a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale. There are, however, complications now that Oliver has been able to enter the real world. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to take Oliver’s role in Delilah’s favorite book. In this multilayered universe, the line between what is on the page and what is possible is blurred, but all must be resolved for the characters to live happily ever after.

My Review: A few years ago, my dad passed me the proof copy for Between the Lines, a book he thought I might like because it was about story characters coming to life. I LOVED it. I wanted more! Coincidentally, a few days after I finally bought a finished copy of Between the Lines only a few weeks ago, I was emailed about reviewing the sequel. How I had missed that news before, I have no clue. Needless to say I have never responded to an email faster.

Off the Page is, essentially, a sequel –  it follows Oliver adjusting to life in the human world with his love, Delilah, after he’s left his fairy tale – but it’s not actually that hard to follow for someone who’s new to the story! Following the events of Between the Lines, Oliver and Delilah can finally be together in the real world – and Delilah thought that teaching him basic human-world skills would be hard, but when something in the book is starting to mess everything up, Delilah realises it’s going to be a lot harder…

Admittedly it did take me a little while to become properly engrossed in the story, but once I was, I didn’t want to stop reading. The plot progresses brilliantly, with some twists and turns I couldn’t guess were coming. The ending was really satisfying and actually made me tear up a tiny bit!

Just as Between the Lines was, Off the Page was superbly written – a blend of humour and heart that’s hard not to fall in love with. Mother and daughter duo Picoult & Van Leer are both so talented and I love their writing – I would love to read more from both in the future, collaborative or not! There’s something about Off the Page that I can’t quite define. It, along with the first book, just seems to stand out against the rest of its genres – feeling like an old classic, but upbeat and modern too. They seem to be very popular in the US , so I really want to spread the love for them over here in England!

Overall, Off the Page was a fantastic companion novel that I highly recommend – whether you have read Between the Lines or not. The beautifully crafted contemporary world with a fantasy twist will certainly appeal to fans of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke! Whether you’re looking for a gripping fantasy story, or a beautifully written romance, Off the Page is perfect. I can’t wait to read more from Picoult & Van Leer in the future – it was sad to see this story finish!

My Rating:

four

 


ALSO! ZAPPAR FEATURES: On the front of the hardcover book, you’ll find a sticker that asks you to scan the book with Zappar – an app available on iOS and Android. I was expecting this to be simply a link to a description of the book or something similarly generic – so I was stunned at what scanning the book revealed! Excuse my bad attempts at getting photos…IMG_5469

The words on the front cover animate a spiral off the page, then the book characters bursting off the page literally do jump off the page. Through your phone or tablet, you can watch them dance around – and flip your camera to take a selfie with them! Here’s dad looking baffled because technology.

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

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Published 4nd June 2015 by Harper Voyager.

23569524Goodreads Synopsis: What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?
For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.
For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.
When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.
But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

My Review: I first heard about this at the Fire Sermon event with HarperVoyager a few months ago, and instantly the story appealed to me. Over the last year I’ve been getting into contemporary more and more, which has meant I’ve been reading less fantasy. After The Fire Sermon, this seemed the perfect read to rekindle (pun 100% intended) my love for the genre. And, it was! An Ember in the Ashes exceeded my expectations by miles. It was a mesmerising début, from a very talented new writer.

The story is told in switching perspectives; Laia, a scholar, and Elias, a ‘mask’ soldier. Laia is thrown into a world of resistance against the Empire and espionage in order to save her brother, whilst Elias is a promising soldier of Blackcliff, expected to go through horrifying things to compete to be Emperor, despite how much he detests the system. The two are about to meet in the place they are both trapped, and the path they take is set to change everything.

adored the characters. Laia was a refreshingly unique protagonist. In the beginning, she is weak, afraid and does not involve herself in anything illegal; that’s all her brother, until he’s captured. She develops a lot over the course of the plot; Sabaa Tahir has written her character so well. I didn’t really mind the vague love triangle, too!

It’s really hard to express my feelings about An Ember in the Ashes. It was just so enjoyable – I was sucked into the world of the Empire straight away; swept away with the characters on their terrifying stories. The story ended on such a huge cliffhanger, and I actually thought it was a standalone novel… Thankfully a sequel is due and I’m eagerly anticipating reading more about Laia and Elias.

Overall, I very highly recommend An Ember in the Ashes. If you’re a fan of fantasy, Sabaa Tahir’s book is the perfect next read – and, in fact, it’s the perfect book to get into the fantasy genre with. Undoubtedly one of the most stunning debut novels I have read.

My Rating:five

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

Book Review: BOO by Neil Smith

Published 21st May 2015 by Windmill Books.

24702495Goodreads Synopsis: When Oliver ‘Boo’ Dalrymple wakes up in heaven, the eighth-grade science geek thinks he died of a heart defect at his school. But soon after arriving in this hereafter reserved for dead thirteen-year-olds, Boo discovers he’s a ‘gommer’, a kid who was murdered. What’s more, his killer may also be in heaven. With help from the volatile Johnny, a classmate killed at the same school, Boo sets out to track down the mysterious Gunboy who cut short both their lives.
In a heartrending story written to his beloved parents, the odd but endearing Boo relates his astonishing heavenly adventures as he tests the limits of friendship, learns about forgiveness and, finally, makes peace with the boy he once was and the boy he can now be.

My Review: As soon as I’d read the synopsis for Boo I knew it would be my kind of book – it reminded me of an old favourite anime series, Angel Beatswhich is about a high school that deceased teenagers find themselves at. The ‘heaven’ in this book is quite different, though shares similar themes, so I was really interested in reading Boo.

Boo is the nickname of the protagonist, Oliver – who wakes up in an afterlife consisting only of American 13 year-olds like himself. He thinks he’s died of a heart problem in school – but when he finds his sort-of friend there with him, Boo has to track down who killed them.

The story is very dark and unnerving at points – but is also unexpectedly a heart-warming story about the bonds people make. I couldn’t predict a single thing about the plot – it turns in ways impossible to imagine. The ‘reveal’ was abrupt and shocking. There’s no way I could’ve guessed it, but as soon as I finished the book I was wondering how I’d missed it! It definitely sent a chills through me, though.

Neil Smith’s imaginative ability is admirable. His version of heaven in Boo felt completely individual and was the perfect backdrop for the mystery plot. As fantastical as it was, it seemed so real: Each uniquely crafted character of the strangely bound community seemed to jump from the page, brimming with personality.

The main protagonists were incredibly memorable. Oliver is a slightly awkward thirteen year-old, who is more engrossed in his science fascination than anything else. I saw a little of my thirteen year-old (and current…) self in him and his voice grabbed me from page one. I’m sure I say that the voice stood out about a lot of books I read, but Boo was just different. The narrative was flawless to me and I felt Boo’s vulnerability and curiosity shine through.

Overall, I’d without a doubt recommend Boo. It’s certainly not for everyone, given its disturbing subject – but it’s hard to fault Neil Smith’s writing. His characterisation and narrative were brilliant – as was the plot, which unravelled cleverly. Boo didn’t turn out the simple ghost murder mystery I thought it would be: It was addictive, ingenious and the kind of book that breaks your heart then sticks it back together again. Multiple times. I can see Boo getting a lot of attention!

My Rating:

four and a half

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

Review-Graphic: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I borrowed Belzhar based on Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary‘s review from a little while ago. I devoured the book in one evening and was blown away. It was just stunning! Revision has been a little time consuming lately so I’ve done a little graphic instead of a full review…

belzhar review graphic1

I borrowed a copy of Belzhar from my local library.

Book Review: The Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone

Published (in paperback) 1st January 2015 by Harper Collins.

21096480Goodreads Synopsis: Half of your soul is missing.
The lost part is in the mirror.
And unless Sylas Tate can save you, you will never be whole again.

Sylas Tate leads a lonely existence since his mother died. But then the tolling of a giant bell draws him into another world known as the Other, where he discovers not only that he has an inborn talent for the nature-influenced magic of the Fourth Way, but also that his mother might just have come from this strange parallel place.

Meanwhile, evil forces are stirring, and an astounding revelation awaits Sylas as to the true nature of the Other. As violence looms and the stakes get ever higher, Sylas must seek out a girl called Naeo who might just be the other half of his soul – otherwise the entire universe may fall…

My Review: I had seen copies of The Bell Between Worlds everywhere last year, when it was first released in hardback, though didn’t get around to reading it – so I was really pleasantly surprised when I received a copy of the paperback edition, which had just been released. I hadn’t read a huge amount of fantasy so far this year and I dived straight into this not knowing too much about the story, apart from what the synopsis said!

I was really taken by Johnstone’s writing style. In a lot of places, it was very lengthily descriptive. I really loved that; visualising this fantastical world so clearly was as much fun as reading about the events within it unfolding! Though, in some places, it did mean the story dragged a little, especially in the more action-packed parts, or that it took a while to get to the action.

The world building is stunning and unforgettable. I am in love with the concept of the mirrored worlds – our world of science, and the Other; a world of magic – as well as all of the fantastical elements such as the Passing Bell. The world of The Mirror Chronicles quickly became one of my favourite fantasy settings – and considering I decided this halfway in, and this is only book one, I guess that shows how much I loved it.

Overall, The Bell Between Worlds was a much more enjoyable read than I’d actually anticipated! I haven’t been reading much fantasy lately but this has definitely rekindled my love for the genre and I’m looking forward to reading many more similar books, as well as the next Mirror Chronicles book, Circles of Stones. Johnstone’s fantastical world has a very unique feeling to it, and the characters are fantastic. I can’t wait to read more about Sylas, Simia and Naeo!

My Rating:

fourI received a copy of The Bell Between Worlds from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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