NetGalley · Reviews

EMPRESS OF THE FALL by David Hair – Review

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I was kindly given an e-copy of this via NetGalley by Quercus Books in exchange for an honest review.

Emperor Constant is dead and his rivals are scrabbling for power – but any misstep could plunge the land, already devastated by the shocking outcome of the Third Crusade, into a calamitous civil war.

The Imperial throne is not the only one in jeopardy. Two brothers, imprisoned veterans of the Crusades, finally return home to find their father’s kingdom being plundered – but the price of regaining their birthright will have far-reaching implications for the entire empire.

In the East, Sultan Salim, peacemaker and visionary ruler, faces his greatest challenge as his people demand an invasion of the West in retribution for the Rondian Crusades

And lurking in the darkness, orchestrating both the power struggles and the inevitable conflicts, is a shadowy group threatening to destroy civilisation itself.

Once more, Urte stands on the brink of cataclysm.

I REALLY wanted to like this book. I really did. I thought “Yes, finally, an epic I can get behind!” but sadly… this left me wanting.

There were about 5 pages (on kindle) of lore and explanations and history before you even get to chapter one. And then when we got into the book, there were about 50 different names, titles, places etc to get to grips with. And as a person who mostly reads at night, tucked up in bed, where the tasks of the day can’t take me away from me-time, I lost track very quickly.

Like, I don’t know why I need to know every single player so early on, or the world in names. Give me the world in sights and feelings first, interactions. Give me more than just “Bravaa of the inter-sectional troupe of Delivarr, who answers to Numpty Dora…” (it wasn’t as bad as that example but so. many. names).

Lord of the Rings has tons of names, right? And lore and history. But the way Tolkien delivered those names – ie, taking his time and making sure we understood where we were at the start of it rather than throwing around the entire Middle Earth’s information at us – eased us in so we felt more involved.

I felt the same with Empress as I did with Game Of Thrones. so I guess in that example it’s pretty accurate – I did not care at all about any of the names thrown at me. And I DNF’ed that one pretty quickly.

Make no mistake, apart from the onslought of information, the writing is good and I appreciated the threads of story I got in the end, but the beginning left a lasting impression of confusion and I ended up DNF’ing this at 29%.

Book Things · books · NetGalley · Reviews

GEEKERELLA by Ashley Poston

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I was graciiously given an eARC in exchange for an honest review by Quirk Books via Netgalley

A NEW FAVOURITE HAS ARRIVED – 5*

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Amazon UK // Amazon US

Goodreads: HERE

From the first pages, I was hooked on this. I can’t even pinpoint why – the writing flowed well, Elle was a strong protagonist, but perhaps it was the fact we got to see the other side of the story with Darien (hello, cutie) which made this more dynamic.

DEFINITELY shipped them. Hard.

Of the two books centered around Fandom I’ve read so far this year, this one felt the most authentic. I’m REALLY big on dialogue (maybe haven’t mentioned before – ahem) and this never seemed forced to me. The dual POV was a delight, both voices coming across as strong, and all other characters surrounding them were just as strong too.

Sage, the green haired wonder on the front cover, is an absolutely wonderful character. I want her to be my friend. Gail is annoying despite being symapthetic, but then I think she’s sort of meant to be because we saw her from Darien’s POV.

I think a major plus is this was that I imagined everything so vividly. I could see everything of Starfield – the show they’re so in love with – as well, looking at the Fandom, and it wasn’t forced. In some books about Fandom they drop names as though they’re saying “Look! I know about this one! Paranatural, right?” but in this one Poston really seemed to know what being in a fandom means. Like, I’ve been to cons, and they’re the weirdest, most AMAZING places, and everyone is supportive of each other. Yeah you get the occasional dick, and we did in this one too, but I dunno. I felt like I was there.

Were some of the villains cartoony? Yeah, maybe, but I think that just added to the charm. I physically hated Elle’s stepmother. I know teenage me wouldn’t have done a damn thing, but I wanted to slap the woman. It’s very rare a book can make me cry, lately, hardened book armadillo that I am, but this one managed.

I felt Elle’s pain, and I loved Darien’s character, and I want Starfield to be a show ok?!

NetGalley · Reviews

Review: ALL OUR WRONG TODAYS by Elan Mastai

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I was graciously given this book to review through NetGalley by Penguin UK for a full and honest review

Rating: 3*

You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we’d have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn’t necessary.

Except Tom just can’t seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that’s before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.

But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.

Buy it: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Goodreads: HERE

I struggled to begin reading this book. While the voice literally smacked of personality and humour, it felt like there were about 7 chapters of info dumps and not much story at all to truly get me involved emotionally. I’m not that used to being addressed as a reader but I settled into it, and it was quite a nice change, but it’s unfortunate that the info dump took a lot of excitement I had about reading this book away at the start. I felt like I needed a PHD in this book to be able to get what was being explained.

The technology itself sounded absolutely amazing, which is a big reason why I gave this 3* and not 2. I had to check back a few times to remind myself what this was actually meant to be about because it read so much like a fictional reference book without the threads of plot or prominent action.

I wasn’t sure where the author was leading me – which is usually fine, unreliable narrators are a huge plus with me – but this wasn’t unreliable, it was just that I had no idea. At all.

It’s a novel concept, the way it was presented, and it reminded me of Cloud Atlas. I suppose it is clever. But I don’t read books to see if they’re clever or not, I read books to be immersed in the story, and characters. Do I want to be challenged? Absolutely. But while enjoyable once I got mid way through, the start let it down for me.

Book Things · books · NetGalley · Reviews

REVIEW: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

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When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Jason Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Buy it: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Goodreads: Here

3.5 *

No lie – this book  has seriously GREAT messages. And I’m so happy there are books out where where girls can be out and proud, geeks, of all colours and embraced in a novel. A fair few of the times I really resonated with the geekery and fangirlishness of these characters. But some of the really touching messages are lost in a hotchpotch of other things I couldn’t quite connect to.

The first half, I really enjoyed, where we see the three of them settling into SupaCon, but by the end I was a little distracted by the OTT dialogue of openness, wonderfulness and joy.  The only conflicts I can truly remember were about Chase, who was a world class douche, and Taylor’s dealings with her panic attacks.

Everybody – and I’m not saying this because I’m a cynic (ah, who am I kidding?!) was too nice to each other. Like… instant forgiveness. Instant love. “Harboured a crush on you 5ever” type deals. Is nobody a teenager with a grudge any more? Or was that just me…

Personally, there was a bit too much dialogue in ratio to the inner thoughts of the characters and I couldn’t really suspend my disbelief. Nobody kept their thoughts to themselves. Which basically, could have been a good thing. I think it lost me at the zombie re-enactment (not a spoiler, I promise). It might have been the pacing – it could have afforded to be a bit longer in my opinion.

BUT – it was fun, I enjoyed it, and it was a super quick read, I think I read it in under 2 hours total. It’s great that just a joyful and open book is out there, but I don’t think it was for me.

 

 

 

Book Things · books · jadewritesbooks · NetGalley

Mid-February Book Round-Up

CURRENTLY READING (both via NetGalley)

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So far – I had to put it down at 26% and have a good cry, because Molly is basically speaking to the 17 year old fat girl still residing inside me.

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So far – it’s very well written and there’s a good ‘mood’ about it but it’s too soon to really get into the characters or see how distinctive they are. I have a feeling this is a ‘grower’.

TO READ:

NetGalley

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I read the first one, it was a very competent novel but some of the shocks didn’t hit me in the feels like I wanted them to. I’ve had a sneaky look and so far, this begins and seems much stronger than the first book.

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I hope this doesn’t really 100% require the first two books to be read, because I didn’t realise this was a third book. It excites me anyway!

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THERE IS SO MUCH LORE. Seriously, there’s like 10 pages on the ebook which describes the history and magic. I  need to be not-alm0st-sleeping when I read this.

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I read the first chapter of this already, to get into it – it was non-stop dialogue. This may become a DNF unless it perks up.

In Print

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MY BABIES. My darling Ronan ❤ Noah ❤ Blue ❤ Gansey ❤ CALLA ❤ I’m so excited I could finally order this. It’ll arrive before ACOL below, so I hope I can read it in time to devour the other one.

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I DON’T WANT IT TO END DON’T MAKE IT END.

Book Things · NetGalley · Reviews

Review: THE BLOOD KEY by Vaun Murphrey

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Genre: YA Sci Fi
Rating: Image result for star rating 3.5

Thank you NetGalley and Artemis Femme publishing for a copy of this book!

ZENA SKALA is freed from an asylum at age eighteen after serving time for a crime she didn’t commit—the presumed murder of her missing brother.

Unwanted attention from the police and media ensues. Zena’s only hope resides in the deserted Skala Estate and memories from her odd past.

Secrets await in her family home. Some more dangerous than others…

Where to Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Goodreads: The Blood Key

This is the first book I’ve read by Vaun Murphrey, and her writing voice instantly stood out. You know when you read the first few sentences and go “yeap!” because you know you’re in good hands? I had that feeling.

I enjoyed the tone of the main character introducing us to the story. There’s a lot to like about Zena, but there’s equally a lot to get frustrated about. She’s a tall girl (Amazons represent!) and blase about things enough to be quietly sassy. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind often. For instance, what’s the first thing you do when let out of an asylum and left unsupervised? Drink, of course. Especially if you have a dodgy family history.

The main chapter I enjoyed with her was the flashback chapter (disguised as a dream which was kinda sneaky) introducing her brother Christophe – who, I admit, I was instantly drawn to. Vaun’s description made him an early key player for Book Boyfriend 2017, not gonna lie.

Dominic is equally nice, though a bit underdeveloped. And when the First Big Twist turns up in the first quarter, it seems to be skimmed over so quickly as though it’s automatically integrated – not even Zena, who I’d imagine despite being casual about stuff having seen it all before would still be shocked and have some discernible reaction other than “ok gimme food” – and then we’re moving on to the next plot point.

While this book isn’t perfect, I would pick up something of Vaun Murphrey’s again because I did enjoy her writing, I just hope the pacing is more equal.