Review: Banished by Liz De Jager

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Title:  Banished (The Blackhart Legacy book #1)

Author: Liz De Jager

My Rating: blog 5 leaf rating

Buy from Amazon – Buy from Waterstones – Buy from The Book Depository

sumary finalKit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

– Summary not mine; taken from Banished’s goodreads page.

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Banished is one of those books that is simply so awesome, so enjoyable, and so imaginative, that you have to take a break every hour or so while reading to just absorb its beauty. With a soul-gripping beginning, and amazing characters, this book will quickly rise up onto your favourites list whilst reading.

One thing that I really enjoyed were the excerpts of what seemed like lore books, or some kind of text book Kit might have studied from. It added to the story without adding too much, or spoiling anything. It gave the reader a better sense of Kit’s world, making it feel more whole and more enjoyable. Because of this, you can easily get lost in the story.

Another of Banished’s strengths is its amazing cast of characters. There’s Kit, main girl, who’s perfectly trained in kicking butt. Then there’s Thorn, faery prince, who you wouldn’t want to give coffee to (well actually, you might). There’s also Aiden, the sassy werewolf. Each quickly gained a place in my reading heart.

To break it down, Banished has everything a good story needs – mystery, the right kind of drama, the perfect amount of action, and the kisses that had to happen sometime (or risk the reader having a heart attack from the stress). The ending will leave you baffled, and at a loss, and most importantly, crying desperately for more.

However, when you try and review this book, you will come up short. It’s hard to formulate thoughts on something you loved so much.

 

 

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Review: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

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Title:  Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children book #2)

Author: Ransom Riggs

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

Buy from Amazon – Buy from Waterstones– Buy from The Book Depository

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The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.

– Summary not mine; taken from Hollow City’s Goodreads page.

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Ransom Riggs is one of those wonderful writers where it doesn’t matter how much time passes between reading the first and second book – I easily fell straight into the story again, and before I knew it, I was 100+ pages into the book.

I felt exactly the same with the first book in that I loved the combination of vintage photos and the story. I think it’s one of the books major strengths, since it the story becomes more real and unique. In a way I like that it doesn’t tell you which photos are shopped and which ones aren’t, as it adds an air of mystery to the photos, and makes you question those strange looking photos that could go either way. Some are fairly obvious though, like the picture of the Emu-Raffe (which I found terrifying, by the way. And you can go ahead and laugh about that). I also love the style of the actual book – ridiculously gorgeous.

I have nothing but praise for Ransom and his writing. I love that the children weren’t all likable all the time, since I just felt closer to them. They felt like brothers and sisters. I also really commend Ransom’s ability to write about so many characters at once. Often characters can be left out of conversations, or forgotten about, only to reappear later on. This isn’t the case in Ransom’s writing; all of the dialogue is just right.

I love that this is pitched as a YA novel, when really it could be enjoyed by just about anyone (I’m going to run an experiment – push these on my mum, who isn’t a big reader and see what happens). I just want to run in the street throwing nicely passing copies of the book out to people. If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.

When I said I had no criticism for Ransom, I may have lied. Just a tiny bit. Here’s a few pointers I’d love for him to respond to:
1.The book was over way too soon. Why not 700 pages? Better, 1000?
2.I loved your book so much its nigh on impossible to form a proper review. Please fix this in the next book.
3.When is the next one?

Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

18079804book info finalTitle: Half Bad (Half Life Trilogy #1)

Author: Sally Green

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

Buy from Amazon – Buy from Waterstones – Buy from The Book Depository

sumary finalHalf Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

– Summary not mine; taken from Half Bad’s Goodreads page.

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I received Half Bad as a gift from a friend, as a very early birthday present. I was given the choice to have it early or to wait, and I chose to have it early – some time later, the book was read, but my birthday was still distant on the horizon. Needless to say, I enjoyed the book an incredible amount.

Half Bad had me gripped from the first page – the first person, present tense that is rarely used in books really surprised me, and set Half Bad apart from other books right away. I was curious to see whether the entire book was written this way, but when main character Nathan reminisces of his past life, the tense changes to fit this. This immediately caused Half Bad to strike me as a unique and very enjoyable book.
Do not be fooled by the use of the trope of white and black magic, because the world of Half Bad is still very unique. As I read on, I discovered that Half Bad was literally my perfect type of book. There was a lot of action, a fantasy world that absorbed me, and just the right amount of focus on the romance. There were also so many hints at things that made me want to read on, and the interesting characters really helped make the story come together.
I didn’t find Nathan’s father, Marcus, as menacing as he was made out to be, though. Don’t get me wrong, he was very menacing, but when he actually turns up in the book, he’s not the big raging ball of hellfire I was expecting. This may all change in the sequel though, and I may be forced to eat my own words.
One thing I really enjoyed was the family relationships in this book. Nathan is close to his grandma, but even closer to his half-brother, Arran. The bond between them is very strong and there were more than a few heart-wrenching moments between them, which only added to the pain and difficulty Nathan is forced to go through. These aren’t the only interesting characters though – Celia was also a favourite of mine, because even though she’s portrayed as a very evil, horrible person, there’s also a strange kind of bond between her and Nathan. Their relationship is incredibly complicated, but I hope something good will come of it.

When I finished this book, I just wanted to scream and through it across the room. I loved the ending, but I also really hated it because I wanted more of the story. It will be a long wait for Half Wild, though, and I might just go mad in the time it takes for a copy to reach my hands.

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, Book #1)

Author: Patrick Ness

My Rating:blog 5 leaf rating

sumary finalPrentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

from Goodreads

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The first thing that struck me about The Knife of Never Letting go was the interesting writing style. Todd’s narration is written in the dialect used in Prentisstown, and since it is coming from his perspective and he cannot read or write, it makes sense that longer words would be spelt phonetically. This made me feel a lot closer to Todd and his story, which I really enjoyed. It also demonstrated how different his world is, and gave the narration personality. I also liked the rather artsy way that the Noise was portrayed – the text in different fonts, showing whether the thought was harsh and quick through a spidery, scrawled text, or whether it was calm and methodical in a very conservative font. It really made me understand how the noise worked, even if I did have to focus and read each thought, trying to gain some insight into who it was.

What really drew me into reading the book in the first place was its very unusual concept. Unusual is a good thing when reading, especially since a lot of books can sound the same, making them quite boring. Even so, once I thought I knew what was going to happen and had been lured into a false sense of knowing the world, a big surprise made me take a step back for a moment, and then read on vigorously for the next three hours. I’m not sure whether this is Ness’ storytelling or my complete lack of observation (it may be a bit of both), but either way I liked it a lot.

Throughout the novel there is a huge sense of foreboding, which at some points made me want to read on more, and at some points made me feel like I was going to go into cardiac arrest. I knew that bad things were going to happen, but the suspense was almost unbearable. The book is very powerful, and very violent. Not just in terms of plot, but in the way that the novel is unforgiving and completely ignorant of the reader’s feelings. In more than one instance, I felt uncomfortable reading violent scenes, but I knew this was Ness’ desired effect.

By the end of the book I was expecting a very large cliff hanger (which I got) and I’m sure this is some evil plot Patrick Ness conjured up to put his readers through the most pain. Nevertheless, I’m eager to read more and will seek out the rest of the trilogy, and the author’s other books, to devour and savour. As a footnote, however, Manchee will never be forgotten (and Ness, never forgiven).

Neverland Blog Tours: The Star Child by Stephanie Keyes‏

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This post is a little long, so here’s a tiny contents:

First up is my review, including a summary of the wonderful The Star Child, followed by a short bio of the author, then there’s a chance for you guys to enter a giveaway with some great prizes, and finally, more details on who’s posting for the rest of the tour! Enjoy!

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Cover with quote

Title: The Star Child (The Star Child, Book #1)

Author: Stephanie Keyes

My Rating:blog 4 leaf rating

Links:

Website: http://www.stephaniekeyes.com – Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/StephanieKeyes – Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/stephaniekeyes/ – Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

sumary finalThe world is about to be cloaked in darkness. Only one can stop the night. Kellen St. James has spent his entire life being overlooked as an unwanted, ordinary, slightly geeky kid. That is until a beautiful girl, one who has haunted his dreams for the past eleven years of his life, shows up spinning tales of a prophecy. Not just any old prophecy either, but one in which Kellen plays a key role. Suddenly, Kellen finds himself on the run through a Celtic underworld of faeries and demons, angels and gods, not to mention a really ticked off pack of hellhounds, all in order to save the world from darkness. But will they make it in time?

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When I first started reading The Star Child, I found that right away I knew it was going to be a gripping story. One of the many things that I loved about the novel was how indulgent the story was giving details about the main character, Kellen, and his life before the real action starts. The story was very intense and wholesome, and what I particularly enjoyed was the fact that there was no gaps in the story telling, and no patchiness in the plot or world. I loved learning about Kellen’s family (even if a few of them just made me angry), especially his mother. I knew that there were going to be a lot of questions that needed answering. There’s a lot of characters in this book that all have their own stories, which are hinted at but never quite revealed, which just makes me want to read more! The only slightly negative point that I have about this book is that I wanted to learn more about Kellen’s father – though, with that ending, I’m pretty sure my request will be granted in the next book.
The introduction to Calienta was written in such a lovely way. Ignore all you’ve heard about dreamscapes being a ‘cop-out’, in this story they make perfect sense, and if reading the dreamy, ethereal prose that is written in these parts doesn’t make you melt, then I’m not sure what will.
Though the romance side of the story didn’t really interest me, I couldn’t help but see why others would love it – the love between the two characters (not sure if this is spoilery so I won’t mention who!) is so all-encompassing, and so meant-to-be, that even I felt my heart warming a little. It was wonderful to read about them once they found each other, and though the romance was a little rushed, there was reason for it. They didn’t have time to get to know each other, fate literally rested on whether they would feel the connection instantly or not.
I loved that The Star Child was such a lighthearted, funny read that just kept me turning the pages. The novel is a good fantasy, filled with Irish folklore which really grabs the reader’s attention (and doesn’t let go).
A more personal enjoyment of mine about the book was that I loved reading from a male perspective. So many other fantasy books with vaguely similar plotlines are out there but they all have female protagonists, and it gets a bit repetitive reading about another girl. It was very refreshing to read about a boy.
Also, I LOVED that there was music sheets at the back, so that if the reader was musically talented (unlike me) they could learn to play and listen to melodies that inspired the story and fitted the characters. We also got to learn a bit more about the author, which is always nice!

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steph10Stephanie Keyes grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and spent years traveling and working as a Corporate Trainer before she made the decision to pen her first novel. As a teen, her family always accused her of having an “overactive imagination.” Now, she’s encouraged to keep her head in the clouds and share her world with readers. Still a resident of the ‘Burgh, Steph is now Mom to two little boys who constantly keep her on her toes. In addition, she’s best friend to her incredible rockstar of a

husband. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), a speaker and teacher, as well as a featured author for Love a Happy Ending Lifestyle e-magazine. Keyes is the author of the YA Fantasy series, The Star Child, which currently includes The Star Child, After Faerie, The Fallen Stars, and The Star Catcher, all from by Inkspell Publishing. The Fallen Stars was a 2013 semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Awards. The Star Child has topped the Amazon best-seller list several times since its 2012 release. Steph writes YA novels because she’s a hopeless romantic who lives to believe that Magick truly does exist. She is hard at work on a new YA novel.

GIVEAWAY

Want to win…1st Prize-Book boyfriend bag

2nd Prize-The Star Catcher playlist on iTunes.

3rd Prize-New swag pack? If so, enter here!

FINAL BANNER

The Star Child Blog Tour’s next stop is… A review on Sim’s Bookish Thoughts! Check out their blog tomorrow to see what they thought of the book. Bloggers also taking part in the tour are:

Reviewed the Book, The Book Cwtch, Booktuation, Aisha Reads Books, Green Embers, Lynsey James, She Loves to Read, Best Chick Lit

Cover Reveal – This is Sarah by Ally Malinenko

Today I’m super excited to be a part of the cover reveal for Ally Malinenko’s YA novel THIS IS SARAH.
 
 
 
 
About the author:
Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection, The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press), and the children’s novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books). This Is Sarah is her first YA book. Ally lives in Brooklyn with her husband and a very ridiculous tabby cat. She blogs at allymalinenko.com and you can follow her on twitter at @allymalinenko. 

 

 

 

About the book:

When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin’s world unravels as he is transformed from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that could change everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so, what is Colin willing to do to bring her back?
And as Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape that is life without her sister. Even as her parent’s fall apart, Claire is determined to keep on going. Even if it kills her.

THIS IS SARAH is a meditation on loss, love, and what it means to say goodbye.

 
 

 
 

ARC Review: The Devil’s Gift by Connor Wolf

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Title: The Bite of Vengeance: The Devil’s Gift (Book #1)

Author: Connor Wolf

My Rating:blog 3 leaf rating

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Roconn and Maria used to live a simple life. Roconn worked as a priest, whilst Maria looked after the children at home in their rural village. But, when tragedy strikes, and Roconn  is faced with not only the dead bodies of his children but the imminent death of his wife, the Devil himself strikes up a deal. Roconn and Maria become the first vampires – feasting on blood, with superhuman strength and a weakness to sunlight and fire.

With a personal vendetta against God, they become royalty, creating vampire subjects to aid their plot to assassinate the pope. But, their plan will not be easily put into action and soon Roconn is faced with yet more difficult and life changing choices.

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First of all, I found it personally touching to be able to request and review a book written by someone of a similar age also living in my town. Since it’s a small town, I wouldn’t have thought that there would be many people in my town who share the same love for reading and writing as I do (though most of my friends enjoy books, it’s not quite the same obsession I have!)

I found that The Devil’s Gift was quite unlike some other vampire books floating around, and I liked this. The inclusion of religious figures such as the Devil was interesting and made for a very good read, since it showed this isn’t a simple everyday story. And these aren’t sissy Twilight-esque vampires – these are full blown, violent and blood thirsty ones. Yay!

The novel quickly developed into a fast paced book, with an active plot and without wasted pages. It’s a short novel but it makes up for this in quality, with its original and captivating story line, and the promise of it developing into a series is exciting.