Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Review of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Every so often a book will come along which will make you re-evaluate all the 5 star reviews you have given in the past.  Six of Crows for me is that book. Set in Leigh Bardugo's "Grishaverse" it is the tale of an impossible heist where the rewards far outweigh the risk.  Our main protagonist Kaz Brekker is fast becoming a legend in the bowels of the Barrel, the criminal underworld of Ketterdam.  He is young, but a driven and ruthless trickster, with a team to match.  They are tasked with breaching the heavily fortified Ice Court to rescue a scientist held hostage.  It's a feat which has never been achieved, but with the promise of a reward that will take Kaz and his team out of the bottom of the Barrel it's risk he's willing to take, after all, just how many things could go wrong?

Six of Crows is told in multiple points of view, which can sometimes be confusing for me but there were only a couple of occasions that I found myself flipping back to the start of the chapter to remind myself who in the limelight.  I felt that this was a style that worked really well with this story as the main six often found themselves in different places with different tasks and this way of storytelling allowed it all to come seamlessly together.  Whilst it does majorly involve the Grisha, I found it was a world that I easily fell into pace with, without having read the Grisha Trilogy first.  I'm told there are a number of nods which are present but I never felt lost or like I was missing out.

The characters are fantastic, my favourite by far was Inej, the wraith.  Rescued from the oldest profession by Kaz, she is a force to be reckoned with, a silent assassin.  There are no walls she can't climb or secrets she can't glean.  I felt most for her, what she had been through before joining with Kaz and how it had driven her to become who she now was.  I loved the sense of purpose that grew within her throughout the story.  The others too though all have their stories to tell, a proper band of misfits all with their secrets and terrible histories that have shaped them. It's hard to remember that they are all teenagers, but then that makes them easier to underestimate.

The audacity behind Kaz's plan is immeasurable and it is through this that I am just in awe of the writing.  At just shy of 500 pages there was not a single moment of rest for the reader, I felt on edge every step of the way. I felt fear for these characters, trepidation but also the good humour that only a rag tag bunch of forgotten teenagers could have in the circumstances they faced.  I simply did not want to put this down, at all.  The last of the six sections I tried to slow down as I knew it was coming to an end but it pulled me in and wouldn't let go.  It's rare for a book to leave me breathless, but this one really did.  It's the first of a duology and I can't wait for pay day to roll round so I can pick up Crooked Kingdom.  If I could give this six stars I would, It's a truly amazing read and If you're a YA fantasy fan you will not be disappointed!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Bookish Ramblings part 11 - is there still a place for facebook blog contests?

After all the fun of the fair last week, I have had my joy come crashing down this weekend with what can only be described as a "freak accident" I'm currently sat here with my left leg raised and heavily dressed and bandaged following a horrific hot water bottle incident.  Trust me when I say that it's not a pretty sight.  As a result I don't have many fun things to talk to you about today but it has got me thinking back to something I used to do all the time on the blog but have stepped back from in recent time, I would love your views as to whether it's something to start up again.

When I first became involved in the Indie book community nearly 3 years ago it was down to just one author that I loved, I quickly became involved in their "street team" in order to help get their name out there.  For those of you alien to Street Teaming (as I was) it pretty much involved the ugly word of "pimping" by entering contests on facebook blogs.  This would afford the winner promo such as the blog updating their profile picture or cover photo to promote their works.  All well and good, however, the same authors were winning all the time and it often felt like a thankless task.

When I set up my blog it was a very different beast to what it is now.  I saw that there was, in my view, very little in the way of blog contest opportunities for the sci-fi, dystopian and fantasy genres and I started this as a way to offer those contests to those authors, I was resolute that I would not be catering to the contemporary romance crowd.  However, within a week one of my contests got shared in a general pimping group and I was descended on by the romance street team masses.  Friends tried to help by telling people that it wasn't that sort of blog and I kind of lost my rag in the end.  I ended up with private messages having a go at me for not being inclusive, people trying to argue with me that heavily romanticised urban fantasy fulfilled the "fantasy requirement element" - in essence what I had started had become twisted out of all recognition because of one careless post share. The damage had been done, I had been bad mouthed around the street team community, I had lost page likes and I wanted to throw the towel in.  I never realised that strangers en masses could be so cruel in private messages.

However, I then realised that these weren't the people I started the blog for anyway and their loss wasn't really a huge loss in the scheme of things.  Yes, it was a shame, but what sensible person looks at a blog called "post-apocalyptic playground" and thinks that it's isn't genre specific?  I carried on with the contests (I added the word "high" before fantasy) and I had a small but loyal crowd entering blog appropriate authors into the mix but as they filtered out so did my enthusiasm and I haven't posted a contest since June.  I just don't know whether to start them up again, whether the glory days of street teams have gone and really whether I have the heart for it.  I have 569 likes on my sister facebook page which is small fry in comparison to the thousands some blogs have and I wonder whether my reach is enough to get to the authors that matter to me.  As you know I have tried to make this blog more personal over the past months but maybe it's time to find a balance?

If you're still with me this far (wow it really is a ramble today) what are you thought on this phenomenon?  Did/do you ever enter these types of contest?  If you are author would you like to see more of them? Would anyone want me to start them up again?  I would love your feedback so please don't be shy!

Until next time, when I hope my leg isn't such a mangled mess and I have some fun stuff to talk about again - after all it must nearly be time for my fairyloot box to be dispatched :)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Bookish Ramblings Part 10 - Pop collector level 1 - Acheived!

Well it's been a fun week in the playground again (I'm not quite sure what to do with all this happiness in a post-apocalyptic world!) with the arrival of my Occamy Funko Pop!  Honestly I love this little guy, I know it sounds a little weird but he's just one of those things I just knew I had to have.  I slightly curse Instagram for this because until I got involved with that I had no idea these guys existed as they are a San Diego ComicCon exclusive.  Yes, I may have sacrificed food for the family as a result of my spends,  but he's such a lovely little chappy that he's worth every penny! I do fear for my bank account though, earlier in the week I was saying to Mr Apocalypse that some pops were selling for hundreds of pounds and how I could never spend such an amount; however I think I could easily sink that now, but I shall show some restraint for the time being - and that's only because i'm hoping for funkofest for my birthday next month!

In other news, Sarah J Maas announced yesterday the title for the next book in the ACOTAR series, it's meant to be a novella, but given how Tower of Dawn turned out I'm hoping for a full length book.  Titled A Court of Frost and Starlight, I have to say I'm beyond intrigued.  I would say that the Starlight element is representative of Velaris, the Court of Dreams and a throwback to Starfall, but the Frost element has me head scratching.  The winter court in the first 3 books has been a bit of a minor player in terms of visibility. Kallias, of course instrumental in the turning of Feyre into High Fae in ACOTAR, has been present and more so in ACOWAR but not a lot is known of the winter court - of course I'm just speculating that the Frost element refers to the winter court but it will be a nice change of pace to find out more about this court.  I'm still secretly hoping that the ARC in this months Fairyloot box will be this but i'm trying to not get overly excited as the clues are vague!  Either way, this is an epic announcement and I can't even begin to wait to April 2018 for this!

Reading wise, I have now finished book 1 in the Maze runner series and I hate to say that I am feeling underwhelmed.  It was quite the endurance read for me which was a shame.   I have 3 more in the series on my shelf, so I hope that the series picks up.  I am currently reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and true to my thoughts after Wonderwoman, Bardugo's writing style is a hit with me, although lengthy chapters are never my friend!  It's so far a great story, so watch this space for my review!

Bad news is that I am behind on my goodreads challenge -  I have 11 books to go to reach my 75 target by the end of the year, I still hope to do it, but i'm not convinced!

Are any of you doing the GR challenge?  How are you getting on?

The Chosen Knights Freebie Book Blitz with Mary Ting

Title: The Chosen Knights Author: Mary Ting Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal Cover Designer: Naija Qamber Designs Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
(HIGHLY recommend to read prequel first--The Angel Knights)
***City of Bones meets The Da Vinci Code.
Urban fantasy lover’s dream! Demons, vampires, angels, witches, and fallen angels all set to the back drop of high school in Hawaii, and astral travel to the past to Knights Templar era.
A page turning mystery with a supernatural twist that entertains to the last page! ~InD'tale Magazine
When teens go missing in Hawaii, a group of demon-hunters—half human and half angel—disguised as high school students, must leave Crossroads, the place where they reside. In a race against time, they uncover the mystery connecting the missing teens, which dates back to the era of the Knights Templar. However, when they discover one of the Templars passed down a book containing all the secrets and codes to finding a particular treasure, they soon realize this forbidden treasure needs to be found before Cyrus, the lord of the possessor demons, acquires it—a treasure which been safeguarded and hidden from him.
There is only one problem: the pages containing the clues leading to the treasure is missing. When the first page is found, Cyrus threatens to kill more descendants of the Knights Templar if it is not given to him by Friday the thirteenth. In the midst of threats and discovery, the demon-hunting angels find they are not alone when supernatural beings begin to reveal themselves. Can they put their differences aside and work together to solve the Knights Templars’ cipher? As they astral travel to the past, they witness a lot more than they have bargained for. And some things are better left unseen.missing. When the first page is found, Cyrus threatens to kill more descendants of the Knights Templar if it is not given to him by Friday the thirteenth. In the midst of threats and discovery, the demon-hunting angels find they are not alone when supernatural beings begin to reveal themselves. Can they put their differences aside and work together to solve the Knights Templars’ cipher? As they astral travel to the past, they witness a lot more than they have bargained for. And some things are better left unseen. 
Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.
Author Links:
The Angel Knights: http://amzn.to/1RyYWdZ
The Chosen Knights: http://amzn.to/1PpJU8H
The Blessed Knights: http://amzn.to/2skJkt1
The Sacred Knights: http://amzn.to/2AOXPqv

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Bookish Ramblings Part 9 - An exciting week!

Well after all the downer from Instagram last week I have had some fun things come my way since.  The first is that my good friend, the awesome Jo Michaels, has invited me to be part of her ARC group for her NA Fantasy, Utterances. This is due for release month and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon for just .99!  The greatest part is that I have also had the honour of being asked to host a read-a-long so I have been excitedly mapping out talking points.  I am 6 chapters in and it's amazing, I can't wait to share my review with you on release day!

The other great thing that has happened is that there are tentative steps in place for me to join a panel of bloggers at Chapter.con in 2019.  I had the most amazing time there in August and I can't wait to do it all again!  Watch this space for more details hopefully coming soon.

My new Funko Pop obsession is getting ridiculous, after coveting them for so long, I finally ordered myself a special edition Occamy from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, these are beautiful and I have seen them in a ton of bookstagrams, I can't wait for it to arrive.  The downside, I have now joined a ton of Funko groups on facebook and keep seeing LOADS that I want to get.  My birthday next month will likely exclusively involve Funko gifts and I have also been living my Funko dreams vicariously through my daughter who has a larger collection than me at 4:1 so far lol.  Next on my list are Sarah and Worm from Labyrinth and the highly sought after Luna with Spectrespecs - we'll see how the search for that goes.

In bookstagram news I have, as I promised myself, carried on doing it just for me.  It's amazing how when you stop putting pressure on yourself that things fall into place - I included Truth, by the wonderful Christina Benjamin on one of my photos this week and excitingly she shared the photo to her Facebook Book Series Page. I was really overwhelmed and so happy that she liked it so much!

(whispers for fear of jinxing myself - but I have reached 100 followers again - I know I promised I wouldn't check but I couldn't help it - and it brings me all the happy!)

Anyway - thank you for reading as always - I realise that today's post has perhaps sounded a little full of myself, that really isn't my intention.  I have so few that I can share my love of all things book with so it all tends to come out as word vomit on here.  I would love to hear from some of you, what great things have happened to you this week?  Or is there something amazing coming up that you just cant wait for?

Until next time!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Review of the Lily Singer Adventures: A Study in Mischief by Lydia Sherrer

I don't think there is a single thing I don't like about this series!  One of my favourites of the past year I have been holding off on this little novella as I'm not sure when the next main book in the series is out.  When I saw that the full length books had had a gorgeous cover makeover last week I couldn't put this off any longer!

Set in retrospect, Lily and Sebastian recount to a curious Kipling the story of how their unlikely friendship was forged; in an effort to break up the tedium of the long overdue clean up operation in Sebastian's apartment. The reference to the Bog of Eternal Stench raised a little smile for me as it's one of my favourite parts of Labyrinth!  Lily is collecting books from an auction house and Sebastian arrives taking far too much of an interest in her quarry.  When Lily fails to be swayed by his charms he must take action to show her that he boxes are in fact lacking in a certain degree of bookish goodness and the unlikely pair set off together on their first little adventure.

I loved the immediate ease that they fell into, like it was an inevitable partnership. Each of them having more than one proverbial trick up their sleeve, filling the gaps for each other. There are glimpses of future books in little Easter Eggs for those who have read the main series, like Sebastian's unorthodox way of travelling and hints at issues from their past that shape them, but not enough to spoil.  It's almost as though as much is revealed to the reader as Lily and Sebastian would have revealed to each other at that stage.  There is a lot of comedy packed into the pages and I found myself smiling throughout as if back with old friends.  My only issue with this is that it was over too soon! 

It's free to download from Amazon and it's the perfect introduction to the characters (although there is a spoiler in respect of Kipling if you haven't read the first couple of books.)  It's a truly scrumptious little addition to this great series.


Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Veiled Release Blitz with Stacey Rourke

Title: Veiled
Author: Stacey Rourke
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Cover Designer: Wicked Book Covers
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb: Political propaganda would have us believe vampires are our friends. Fanged teddy bears misunderstood thanks to archaic lore. Activists picket for them to be welcomed into our society.
They claim vamps don't kill.
They preach we are safe.
They ... are dead wrong.
One year ago a hive slaughtered my family and left me for dead. Found by a team of scientists with their own agenda, I was forged into an unstoppable weapon.
I possess their strength, with none of their weaknesses.
I can move among them free from their crippling hunger.
I am their greatest threat.
Armed with this arsenal, vengeance will feed my desire to penetrate the seedy underbelly of their fetishized lifestyle and expose them for the monsters they truly are.
RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. 
Visit her at www.staceyrourke.com
or on Twitter or instagram at Rourkewrites.
Buy Link: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2AoWg2E