Friday, 8 August 2014

Here, There Be Dragons Review

A few months ago, all of the books that I wanted to read either already read, had too long a request at the library, or weren’t released yet (this is, of course, ignoring the ever-growing pile of to-read books in my room). So I turned to my friend Pulsarax on Tumblr and ended up borrowing a number of books – one of which was Here, There Be Dragons.
Here, There Be Dragons is a fantasy novel written by James A. Owen. It was published a while back in 2006 and is the first book in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. I’m not usually much of a fan for books that don’t take place in a modern setting, but I was lent this book with the promise of allusions to various mythology, so how could I refuse?

I am very glad this book was recommended to me. One of the things I usually dislike about fantasy that is set anywhere other than modern times on earth is a combination of the fact that realistic human development and that there is normally a formula of how things happen. Someone seems normal (for whatever creature they are), they accidentally get dragged into a mess that they didn’t originally anticipate, and then go on some form of the quest. While this book did follow that structure, there was enough happening that it didn’t seem drawn out or long winded.

The first thing that stood out was, of course, the allusions to mythology. Folklore, Greek, Arthurian... They were all intricately woven into the book where it didn’t harm the understanding if you get the reference, but made a good joke if you did.

The plot itself moved quickly. It was a little difficult to get into, like most books, but sped along once you got past the first chapter or two. I personally love how the author chose to take a plot that could have extended for a trilogy (cough Tolkien cough – not hating on the series, of course) and put it into one book. I have very little attention span as it is, so the fact that it went by so quickly was practically a gift.

On the other hand, the faster the book moves, the less detail there is. While I did love the characters, there was something lacking about them. It is only the first book in the series, so there is most certainly a lot more that can be delved into (I’ve only recently started the second one), but even so, the characters weren’t too relatable and were somewhat flat.

I give this book a four out of five. There were some things about this book that I didn’t like, but they were drowned out by how amazing other parts were. There is also a major plot twist at the end of the book that had me staring at the page in shock. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fairly quick and easy fix of fantasy with a book that’s very easy to get into and will leave you hooked until this end. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

City of Heavenly Fire Review

This review is going up really late and I’m so sorry about that! I read the book the week it came out and then completely forget that I was going to write a review on it (I also forgot to write my cover analysis of Blood of Olympus because the blogger mobile app wasn’t working quite right. I’ll get that up soon, hopefully!)

So, City of Heavenly Fire. How do I begin to describe this book? This book is flawless. Well, as close to flawless as a book can get. It was the perfect conclusion to The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. From the action to the suspense to the character development, all of it was on point and kept me hooked until I finished the book (which may have been a very bad thing, considering my copy had arrived during finals week). Not to mention the fact that this book is huge! It's 725 pages in the US edition, which is even longer than Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz (which is a giant itself - and I highly recommend it).

The plot, oh my. I have virtually no words to describe it. Whatever I was expecting from this book, it wasn’t that. It was better. There isn’t much I can say about the plot itself without spoiling anything (and as you should know if you’re a regular BLB reader, my blog is entirely spoiler free), but I can say that there are a lot of twists – some of those ending happily, others ending in intense feels. Most of the loose ends have been tied up, though there is an introduction to some new characters that will be appearing in The Dark Artifices.

And let’s not forget the characters. Though the timeline in the series is only about six months, I feel like all the characters have grown up and matured since the first book. The character development is amazing. This is especially true for Alec who, to be honest, kind of bored me until this book. But now we get to see more of the character than just small glimpses and oh my god he is insanely sassy.

Speaking of Alec, this book in particular has to be one of the few books in pop culture that is not specifically in the LGBTQ+ genre, but actually includes decent representation that goes beyond “that one gay character.” And yes, this is something that has been in all of the books to date, but there is more of it here (the exception might be the Bane Chronicles, which is entirely from the perspective of a “freewheeling bisexual” warlock). That, and the fact that there is still a clear reflection between how society looks at the subject of sexuality and how the Clave looks at it (as in, it’s gotten more accepting).

Overall, I am giving this book a five out of five. Yes, a perfect score! There were no extremely awkward parts to read in terms of poor writing. The characters were all well developed. The book held me right to the end with its perfection. A quick word of warning is that there is an implied sex scene as well as some moderate violence, but come on. If you’ve gotten to this book, it’s all the same stuff that has happened in the previous books.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Second on the Right review + swag

2014 seems to be the year of classic fairytales. They seem to be appearing everywhere, from TV programmes like Once Upon a Time to literature. I’m seeing the stories of mermaids and Peter Pan and Snow White just about everywhere. I’m not sure if it was Frozen that got everyone into the spirit or if it’s just another switch in literature.

Second on the Right, by Elizabeth Los, provides a unique twist to the original stories of Neverland. I can’t say too much on the plot without giving it away, but I’ve never seen anything like it before. It is told from multiple perspectives and constantly switches between the 17th and 21st centuries. Folklore? You got it. Time Travel? You got it. It’s an interesting mix.

The overall plot of this book was interesting. I haven’t seen this exact type of story before, which is extremely rare for me. It was difficult to skim simply because there was so much happening. I had started to drift off while reading (mostly because it was around midnight) and when I came back into focus, I had no clue what was going on. This is definitely a book you need to be at least somewhat conscious to read.

I have recently stumbled into the world of not-so-impressive writing skills, so this was a nice change from that. The book is grammatically correct and didn’t make me want to claw my eyes out. The vocab wasn’t overly impressive, but Los successfully developed the pirate jargon and kept it consistent throughout the book.

While the overall plot may have been good, there were a few things that weren’t so good. The first is that for the first half of the book, I was in a state of confusion and boredom. It took about halfway through the book for things to start to pick up, and even then, I was still pretty confused as to what was going on.

Romance was also a large portion of the book, which I hadn’t been expecting. I won’t say that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I certainly didn’t expect it. What was bad about the romance, though, was that it was very... sudden. In the words of Queen Elsa from Frozen, “you can’t marry a man you just met.” While there was no marrying at first sight, I felt like some of the romance moved too quickly. Also, there was a heavy importance placed on being married that honestly just made me cringe. Parts of the book were like a bad Hallmark film.

Characterisation is an important aspect of this book. One of the main characters, Eileen, started off very dull and dry and weak to the point where I nearly wanted to stab my eyes out. Her character did improve throughout the book, though the underlying personality was still painful to read through certain parts. James, a character who bored me out of my mind for the first half of the book, also rounded out by the end of the book.

Overall, the book was okay. There were definitely some parts that I enjoyed in it, but there were also a lot of parts that I didn’t. A quick warning is that there are some slightly sexual themes in the book, and while I don’t consider it to be a big thing, there is also considerable alcohol consumption. I’m not sure if this book is young adult or not, which if it’s not, the warnings are definitely not much of anything.

You can find the book in both paperback and ebook form on Amazon here

Now time for the giveaway! You'll have a chance to win some really cool stuff, including some items mentioned in the book as well as a copy of the book in ebook format!

Sending out a HUGE thank you to Bit’N Tours and author Elizabeth Los for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Second on the Right release!

Second on the Right is a fantasy novel by Elizabeth Los. She spent several years polishing the story in order to provide a high quality product to the public. This is her first professionally published novel, though she has produced short stories, one of which will be published in an anthology. Elizabeth uses writing as therapy, her release from everyday stress. At night, after work and once the children are finally tucked in bed, for the fifth time, she sits at her laptop and lets her imagination flow.

Summary: Spawned from an ancient promise, treachery and intrigue follow the protagonists through our world and one lost to the waves. Bound by an invisible bond, they are thrust into a fantastical world of pirates and demons.

James Benedict is a just man haunted by evil. Pushed to the edge, everything stripped from him, a new man arises... a man whose name strikes fear into the hearts of all who hear it: "Captain Hook".

Eileen Davis was a timid woman. Through a fateful cruise she finds herself in the company of the Captain of the Mistral Thief. With his guidance, and the meddling of the local barista, she eventually finds her inner strength.

Will the two of them unite through time to fulfil the promise of their ancestors or will tempers ignite leading all to failure?

Excerpt: The night grew its darkest, just before dawn, when every man aboard the Mistral Thief heard a strange triumphant crow. Benedict shot up with a start.  Recognizing the familiar sound, he grabbed hold of his sword and burst out onto the deck. He could make out the figure of the boy, Peter.

He heard the sound of his crew, spooked by the noise of what shouldn’t be on board a ship. They scurried to light the deck lamps. As the light grew stronger, Benedict could see more clearly a petite figure on the mast, hands on hips, weapon at the side. Glancing back to the deck, he saw James coming from below. Benedict decided to hold off on approaching the figure, knowing of James' desire for revenge. He kept a watchful eye, fully aware of James' tendency to act on impulse.

"Peter," James said in a low growl. "Show yourself!" he shouted.

“That crow. I’ve heard that before,” Benedict commented.

Peter alighted onto the railing with such ease and grace it irritated James. He gave a slight bow, as if observing the niceties. Pulling one of two bags from his belt, he held it up in his hand. James held the sheath of his sword with his hook, struggling only momentarily to hurriedly unsheathe it.

Peter laughed and shook his bag, "Need a hand?" He laughed even more, causing chills to run through James.

James advanced towards him, but stopped short. Peter had reached into the bag he had been holding and had removed a rotting hand, with fingers missing. It was all too familiar to James: his right hand. James and Benedict cringed, disgusted at the sight.

Peter tossed it at James, who jumped back in disgusted. The splat of soft, wet flesh hit the wood, matching the feeling in the pit of their stomachs. Laughing, Peter spun up in flight, and landed back down on the deck, retrieving the hand. Pieces had been left behind from its initial fall.

"No? Much happier with a hook, are we? You're welcome," he sneered. "There’s one who would appreciate a hand, yours, in fact." He floated to the railing to glance at the waters below. "Come, take a look. I promise I won't bite," he grinned, taking several steps away to allow James to draw near.

James and Benedict cautiously took a glimpse. What they saw was the shadowy shape of an enormous crocodile.

James said to him, “Impossible.  They can't grow that large, can they?”

Benedict had no response. He had never seen one that large. In the water, the crocodile, nearly twenty meters long, ticked and hissed. The sounds were eerily similar to a clock.

Benedict and James peered down again at the beast. The crocodile thrashed and clawed its way partially up the side of the Mistral Thief. Sweat dampened James’ brow. Benedict looked at Peter, who was now dangling the remaining portion of what he assumed was James' right hand over the side of the ship. The crocodile leapt from the water, greatly desiring either the hand of James or James himself.
Both James and Benedict cringed, though it was James that moved away from the railing. The scratching of the crocodile's claws on the side of the ship seemed to make him tremble. Peter laughed maniacally, and tossed James’ hand to the crocodile.

“You’ve been using it for bait?” James looked at Peter, horror and disgust evident on his face. “This is all a game to you.”

Pan. He hasn’t aged. Should I tell James? Benedict thought. His eyes shifted in James’ direction. He needs to know.

James pointed his sword at Peter. "What do you want?" He shouted.

Peter unsheathed his knife, circling around the deck. James followed suit. Occasionally, Peter would tap the end of his sword. However, Benedict knew James was a man of indomitable courage. James held his sword steady, firmly in his left hand, his hook slightly hidden behind him. His eyes were cold as steel. At that moment, James appeared to be in complete control of his emotions and actions. Benedict couldn’t help but beam proudly at what he had done for James.

"What do I want?" Peter asked himself thoughtfully. He looked back at James, his eyes glowing faintly red. "I want you to pay," but he stopped. "Then again, perhaps you are suffering a bit. After all, I'm finding your son to be a delicious addition to my lost boys." He ended this with a slight hiss.

“I’ve done nothing to you,” James replied. “I believe you’re the one that will pay for taking my family.”
Benedict subtly moved closer to James. He could see how the boy was manipulating James, using the loss of Eileen and Robbie to rile him to the point of pure rage. Benedict knew all too well how easy it was to make James angry.

"Jas," he said in quiet warning, seeing James' shoulders rise and fall more frequently.

James voice wavered, “What are you?"

Benedict hesitated to offer his knowledge. What would it serve but to merely fan the flame the boy had started. Quietly he said to James, "Me thinks he's Pete, a boy I met years ago. Feeds off humans."
"Explain, please," James murmured to Benedict, not taking his eyes off Peter.

"Not quite o’ changeling. Thought ta be mere legend, but I’d seen it with me own eyes. A powerful creature, though from what world, I'm not sure. Feeds off tha young, slow and sure ta stay alive. No doubt, yer boy be one he's feedin' on," he explained.

Peter held a penetrating gaze at Benedict. "Oooohh. You're a rather smart one, aren't you? But I am at a disadvantage. You seem to know me, but I do not recognize you." The boy’s face scrunched up in contemplation until he seemed to have an epiphany, “The one who set me free! You’re so…old!”
James looked over at the captain. “You set him free?” he whispered angrily. “Why am I not surprised?”
Benedict did his best to avoid eye contact. He knew he would have to explain all of this later. Perhaps he’ll forget. Not likely though.

"It's true." Peter said with a grinned. "I did feed on her. The red hair had to go." He made a violent motion as he spoke.

"Jas," Benedict warned, seeing James tense, the muscles in his jaw tightened.

James waved him off, stepping forward.

Peter continued. "Her white skin, so soft and supple. Her screams of terror and pain, delicious. Oh, she was wonderful!" He paused for a moment, then finished, "Particularly the chewy center within." With the last sentence, his wicked eyes fell on James.

James screamed in anguish. He charged for Peter. Benedict reached out to stop him, but he was too slow. Peter flew up to the top of the mast. James, whose momentum had gotten the better of him, teetered at the rail. The crocodile waited eagerly below. James grunted in an effort to push himself back.
Peter howled in laughter, pointing, mocking and pantomiming actions as if he were James falling over the railing. James ran to the ropes, set to climb. Benedict shouted, but James didn’t hear. Not being heeded, he and a few crewmen pounced on him, holding him down.

"Take him ta me quarters!" he barked at the bo'sun. They held James, who thrashed violently. It took five men to drag James into the captain's quarters and slam the doors shut. Benedict addressed Peter, "Ye best be leavin' now, or ye be facin' my wrath."

Peter shrugged off the threat. "I have no quarrel with you, old man." He jumped off the mast, floating high above. "Tell him I'll be waiting, in Neverland." And he flew off.

Benedict rubbed his sore eyes. "I'm gettin' too old fer this."

At his quarters, Benedict’s hand stopped at the door. James' screams of rage could be heard from within. Benedict opted to take his time. Making a course adjustment, he continued towards El Tiburón.

Amazon: Coming Soon

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Iron Trial Cover + Excerpt

Cassandra Clare, the author of The Mortal Instruments, and Holly Black, most known for the Spiderwick Chronicles, have teamed up to write a new book series titled The Magisterium. 
I'm not sure who the artist for the cover is, but they did an amazing job!

The series follows a boy named Callum Hunt as he and other students study at Magisterium, an academy for magic. There will be five books in the series, each one taking place a year apart in Call's life. The Iron Trial is the first book in the series.

From the prologue, this book seems very promising and I can't wait to read the rest. The series is aimed at middle readers - the same category as Percy Jackson.  The Iron Trial will be available in the US the 9th of September.

You can read an excerpt from the book here.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Sun Damage + Giveaway

Would you look at that cover? It's absolutely gorgeous! Sun Damage is the third book in the Sunshine series by the wonderful Nikki Rae, following Sunshine and Sun Poisoned. 

Life wasn't what Sophie was expecting, so why should death be any different? She’s come back from swimming between the two, and every problem she left is still there. And then some. There’s the human world, where she has a brother on the verge of ruins, band mates all set to go on tour, and people she thought she wouldn't be seeing for a long time showing up. Then there’s her new world, where she’s seeing and hearing things that should not be heard or seen. Where Myles knows more about her than she could have ever guessed. She still doesn't know exactly why Michael is tormenting her, but somehow, everything is connected. The monsters are closing in on all sides and the question is, will Sophie be able to defeat them before it all ends?

Sun Damage will be released on the 28th, available on both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Find more about the book and the author:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Logan Lerman is leaving Percy Jackson?

I know I'm posting more news than I am reviews, and I'm so sorry for that, but so much has been happening lately! And a lot of that stuff is in the Percy Jackson fandom.

According to MTV, Logan Lerman is leaving the Percy Jackson franchise to further his career. On the other hand, this does come from MTV and the quotes seem to be taken slightly out of context. I do hope that the future movies do come out, even if Logan is replaced by a new actor for Percy. I don't exactly believe every word is written (especially if I don't hear it straight from the actor themself with no censoring).

The full MTV article is here, if you want to read it for yourself.