Sunday, 28 September 2014

Stacking The Shelves #107

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tyngs's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your  shelves, may they be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

We love sharing our books with you each week but more importantly we loving see what you add to your shelves. As always, clicking on a book will take you to goodreads.

The Curse Defiers (The Curse Keepers, #3) Eve (Eve, #1) All the Bright Places
Golden Boy

The Curse Defiers ~ Denise Grover Swank ~ netgalley
Eve ~ Anna Carey ~ gift/publisher
All the Bright Places ~ Jennifer Niven ~ gift/publisher
Golden Boy ~ Abigale Tarttelin ~ gift/publisher

Some interesting books for us this week. We hope you got something exciting too!
Happy reading everyone.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Review ~ Red Rising ~ Pierce Brown

Title: Red Rising

Author: Pierce Brown

Published: 28th January 2014 
By: Hodder & Stoughton

First line: I would have lived in peace.

Last line:  Rise.

Synopsis: The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

I’ve been in love with the above cover for what seems like an eternity and at first glance this book fits nicely into my sci-fi, dystopian, apocalyptic, and utopian obsession that I nurture alongside books about all things dead.  

From the beginning it is clear that Red Rising is more brutal and far more explicit than most of the books that sit in the YA genre. I’m not referring to the language used or the relationships between the characters as such, in fact I’ve read a lot stronger. What I’m referring to is the rawness of the characters and sometimes brutal plotline. There are sections of this book that make me wonder if it should be included within the YA genre, for example there is a rape scene included. I had thought that this was an adult book and I have to say I would agree with that classification more than I would one that lends itself to sections for younger readers. Anyhoo, on to the book!

Darrow’s story starts with relative normality, lurches forward into devastation and an ultimate sense of deceit and betrayal before it transforms into a genuine battle for survival. There’s a lot to love about this book.  The transformation of Darrow is gripping, occuring not just on an emotional but also on a physical level and it’s intriguing to see how much he as an individual is prepared to endure to obtain what he perceives as justice. There was something about Darrow that I couldn’t quite put my finger on though and as I often do when I’m lost and confused I turned to Goodreads to hear what other readers thought. A lot of them had it in a nutshell.  As much as I could see the rationale behind Darrow’s behaviour and the emotional point of view was there for me to read about (his sense of loss is palpable at times) he was just too malleable! And no matter what was thrown at him he was just brilliant at it immediately.  Never seemed to get anything wrong. Ever.  So even though this is one hell of a battle it’s as though he is something already superhuman before the real battle gets underway. So maybe it’s that that takes some of the ‘reality’ for want of a better word away from the plot.

There was always talk of The Hunger Games being a milder rip-off of Battle Royale.  If that is the case then I guess I would have to liken the battle between the wannabe peerless scarred in Red Rising as being a combination of The Hunger Games and the Lord of the Flies with a dash of naked humiliation thrown in for good measure.  And there’s an amazing array of characters who seem to twist and turn all over the place so you’re never quite sure who is trustworthy and who isn’t.  The combination of the two keep you on your toes. As with most dystopian series there is a whole new lexicon to acquire but unlike some I’ve read this was pretty easy and I did like the mix of modern language and technologies and historical reflections on earth and its politics and what went wrong.

3.5/5 This is a pretty heavy read and there’s a lot going on.  Given the ending I would imagine that where other books have their mid-series crisis book the next instalment of this read will show no such symptoms.   Again, however I should say that I think this book is for the older reader.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Review ~ The Iron Trial ~ Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

Title: The Iron Trial

Author: Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

Published: September 9th 2014

By:Doubleday Children's Books

First line:From a distance, the man struggling up the white face of the glacier looked like an ant crawling slowly up the side of a dinner plate.

Last line:  And despite himself, despite of the terrible thing he was doing, despite of it all, Call began to grin.

I’m in quite a fortunate position for this review mainly because I haven’t, and I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this, I haven’t read Harry Potter.  Yes, I’ve seen the films and loved them but I’ve never actually read the books so I’m hoping this places me in the fortunate position where I bring no bias with me when reviewing The Iron Trial.  That said having seen the films I can still see that there are similarities between the two stories but that’s tantamount to saying any book about a child wizard from herein is a rip-off of Harry Potter.  Yes there may be similarities but there are also fundamental differences between the stories so I think each should be taken on their own merit.  This is also the first review that I have completed for books for younger children so it was quite strange for me to sit down with a book which is so much more simplistic grammatically, even more so when written by Cassandra Clare who is known for her flowery use of the English language.  So I come to this book with completely new eyes and I have to say I did enjoy it.

So we have the main character Callum (or Call, who I ended up calling call as in phone call a lot in my head – very annoying) who lives with his father and who goes to take part in an assessment on his abilities in order to attend the magisterium where they will develop his magical abilities.  His father doesn’t want him to go, he doesn’t want to go and so he does everything he can to ruin his chances.  The masters don’t fall for the ruse however and Call ends up being whisked off to the magisterium anyway!

In the midst of all the training Call and his new (and only) friends take part in we start to get drawn into this new world of the magisterium and the trials and in this book I guess as with most series it really is all about the world building.  As I would expect with anything written by Clare and Black there is some fantastical description both in terms of the physical world the story is set in but also in terms of the characters, including a bully who I admit did remind me a tad of Draco but then there are many other characters who remind me of different storylines in different books so I can’t see an issue with that to be honest. We also get to know more about the Enemy of Death, baddie of the series and the wars that have taken place between the good and the bad through history.  Within all this there are twists and turns in the plot, some of which I didn’t expect and all of these provide a setting for what will be the next instalment of the series.  One thing I would look for in the second book is a tad more adventure.  It’s often the case that in the first of a series plotline does take a back seat so that a world can be built but there is a lot of potential for the second book and I hope the plot develops, providing more action that will keep a younger reader’s interest.

Based on this first book I would suggest that the series would be suitable for readers from seven plus.

Rating: 3.5/5.  A good start to a series.  There is plenty of potential here for the younger reader.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Review ~ Spirit ~ Daniela Sacerdoti

Title: Spirit

Author: Daniela Sacerdoti

Published: 16th September 2014

By: Black & White Publishing

First line: A dream on the water

Last line:  And all the world was calm.

Yet another series comes to an end and I seem to be perpetually seem to be saying goodbye! The Sarah Midnight trilogy comes to a conclusion with the release of Spirit.

The pace that was created in Tide is certainly kept up in this last read and it was nice to be able to get back and catch up on some of the characters I've really enjoyed reading about.  There are a pile of questions and ends to be tied up as Spirit begins.  First things first though there’s a journey to be made and a battle to be had and Spirit doesn't disappoint. There’s also the addition of several new characters with their introduction being woven into the first few chapters which is great as it allows us some time to get to know them before they are fully integrated into the plot.

It was great to see the development of the main characters as the trilogy draws to a conclusion and some of them, Nicholas, in particular will keep you guessing for a good while!  The relationship (or lack of relationship) between Sean and Sarah is bitter sweet as Sean tries to ‘do the right thing’ by keeping them apart. The development of the other characters, Niall and Elodie in particular for me is quite satisfying as it’s always heartening to see individuals’ lives progress and hopefully improve somewhere along the way.  With Spirit I felt satisfied by the time I reached the end.  Plotlines are tied up neatly and any nagging questions you may have are dealt with.  

There’s plenty of action too!  Sacerdoti has never shied away from a battle and it’s still the case with Spirit.  There is a whole new realm of demons to contend with in this book and the group of friends to travel together to face The King of Shadows certainly having their work cut out since they since to find themselves under attack from all angles.  With the range of abilities them have between them they certainly take it to the demons and the book culminates with the mother of all battles! All the best elements of YA are in here.  Betrayal, loss, forbidden love, sacrifice, humour, mistrust and heartache all make an appearance and it makes for one hell of a journey for the reader.

Rating: 3.5/5  - A fitting conclusion to the series and a really good read.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Spirit Blog Tour visits Midnight Reads and there's a giveaway!

So for the very last time Daniela Sacerdoti is popping into Midnight Readsville on her blogtour bus with the release of the last instalment of the Sarah Midnight Trilogy!

We at Midnight Reads love supporting YA series from UK based authors and this has been one of our favourite series over the last couple of years so we'll be sorry to say goodbye but all good things must come to an end and if you've been a fan of this series we think you'll be happy with this final insight into the life of Sarah Midnight and of course Sean, Nicholas, Elodie and the rest of the gang!

We'll be posting our review for Spirit within the next couple of days, coinciding with the release of the book which is the 16th September 2014 and even better than that as well as reviewing the grand finale we'll also be giving away two copies of the entire Sarah Midnight trilogy! The giveaway is international - A woohoo! So what do you have to do to win?  Well, that's easy!

The characters in the Sarah Midnight trilogy all have different abilities.  Sarah has the blackwater which she uses to kill demons, she's also able to predict future events in her dreams. Niall on the other hand can control demons through the songs that he sings so that got us thinking.  You need a power.  Not necessarily invisibility or flight or all those usual talents.  If you could have one ability that you read about in any of your favourite books what would it be? Just reply to this post and you're in with a chance of all three books landing with an almighty thump on your doorstep!

In the meantime, we have a taster of Spirit to whet your appetite!  Just click on the link below and enjoy!

Preview of Spirit by Daniela Sacerdoti

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Stacking the Shelves #106

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tyngs's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your  shelves, may they be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

We love sharing our books with you each week but more importantly we loving see what you add to your shelves. As always, clicking on a book will take you to goodreads.



Black Ice ~  Becca Fitzpatrick ~ from netgalley
Afterworlds ~ Scott Westerfield ~ from netgalley
Misty Falls ~ Joss Stirling ~ Bought
Heir of Fire ~ Sarah J. Mass ~ Bought
Unmarked ~ Kami Garcia ~ Bought

Friday, 12 September 2014

Review of a sneak peak! Atlantia by Ally Condie

Title: Atlantia

Author: Ally Condie

Published:  28th October 2014

By: Penguin Young Readers Group

Synopsis: Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

What can I say? 42 pages and I was totally hooked! There are already characters I like, characters I intensely dislike (although my gut reaction may be wrong – it rarely is…) and characters I am totally intrigued by.  With a short passage I already feel as if I know the world that Condie has created and I can’t wait to see what happens to Rio next.

If you liked the Matched series and Ally Condie’s style of writing then this is definitely for you.  I’ll be popping off and pre-ordering my now so bye bye then!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Review ~ Trial by Fire ~ Josephine Angelini

Title: Trial by Fire

Author: Josephine Angelini

Published:  2nd September 2014

By: Macmillan's Children's Books

First line: Lily Proctor ducked into the girls' room, already pulling back her rebellious hair.

Last line: Spoiler, sorry!

Source: netgalley

Synopsis:  This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

Well, where to begin.  I read a LOT of books and I enjoy them all for the most part.  Yes, I will concede that in the YA genre there are themes that recur but there is usually a hook of some kind that makes a book stand out in some way whether it be part of the plot line or the characters on the page.  In this instance it seems as though we have an entirely new plotline on our hands with new concepts and storylines that make this story stand out from the rest.

I loved the character of Lily, whether it be the weak version or indeed the uber witch she becomes.  She’s strong and has principles way beyond her years and the way she handles herself puts her up there with other female protagonists to be admired. The use and description of parallel universes and the way that Lily is able to rationalise the concepts through her own scientific knowledge makes the reader think a little more than usual which is refreshing.

This is the first in a series so it is to be expected that there will be a lot of narrative within the read.  We need to learn about the characters, whichever universe they reside in and then of course we need to understand the mechanics of how these universes co-exists (as well as learning about the other mechanics who play a fundamental role in the book).  There are stark contrasts between the ideologies of the parallel universes each highlighting the flaws with the other, although I have to say ours does appear to be more flawed then theirs!  I did love the link between the characters and their alternate selves, especially where there are marked differences in personalities.  Even then however, it’s clear that there are some aspects between the individuals that remain constant.  We have an excellently psychotic in this series in the form of Lilian, and there are already complex relationships forming between the main characters.  I have yet to decide whose team I am on.

The ending which is pretty dramatic paves the way for an even more dramatic conclusion and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!  It would appear that Josephine Angelini has me hook, line and sinker once again and with so many series coming to an end I’m so happy to have found another series that more than fills their boots!

4/5 – This is a really refreshing read.  Go get yourselves a copy tooty sweety! You won’t regret it! 

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