Tuesday 28 March 2017

Review on Strange the Dreamer

Lazlo Strange has no idea where he came from. All he remembers is being taken to a monastery, and being raised by Monks. For his whole life, Lazlo feels like he doesn't belong. That is until he discovers the Great Library of Zosma, a magnificent library where he can learn all about the lost city of Weep, which along with losing it's real name, has been cut off from the rest of the world for over two hundred years. When Lazlo is given the opportunity to visit the city he has dreamed of all his life, he leaps at the chance. However, Weep is far from what Lazlo dreamed it would look like. Lazlo must help the citizens get their city back to how it was before the Mesarthum arrived. However, The Muse of Nightmares soon enters Lazlo's peaceful dreams, and after realising that she just might be real, Lazlo realises the Mesarthum may not be as ruthless as he has been led to believe.


I feel as if I have been waiting to read this book for ages, and that's because I have! Hodder contacted me back in March 2016 to do a cover reveal when the book was set to be released in September. To my dismay, the date got pushed back by a whole six months! However, after practically begging the poor marketing team for a proof, I finally got to read it and it was definitely worth the wait!

Although I have never read anything by Laini Taylor before, I have heard good things about her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, so I probably went into this book with my expectations a little on the high side. The book follows Lazlo Strange, a twenty year old man who has been obsessed with the lost city of Weep ever since he was five years old. I immediately loved Lazlo, and I adored that he was just as obsessed with books as I am! I also loved that he was a little older than most YA protagonists. As a twenty five year old who still believes she is a teenager, and never made the switch to adult books,there are rarely characters in my favourite YA books who are in my age group, so I loved that there was only a five year age gap between myself and Lazlo rather than the ten year age gap that I am used to. Another thing that instantly made me love Lazlo was that he wasn't the conventionally handsome fantasy protagonist that we are all used to, as he actually had physical flaws, including a broken nose. I felt as if this made Lazlo both more likeable and more believable, and it contributed to being completely absorbed in his world.

The book is initially split into two parts, with some of the chapters focusing on Lazlo's journey to Weep, and the other half focusing on Sarai and the other Mesarthum. Although I was initially more interested in Lazlo, I soon became absorbed in Sarai's story too, and was eager to find out how her world would collide with Lazlo's. I loved how the Mesarthum's abilities were revealed sporadically, keeping the reader in suspense over what each character could do.

I loved Lazlo's relationship with his new friends, especially Calixte. I loved the progression of their friendship, and how Lazlo was practically in awe of her. However, I was both confused and disappointed that their friendship seemed to practically disappear when they reached Weep. I initially thought Calixte was going to be a main character, so I was disappointed that she all but disappeared about half way through the book. I also disliked that Lazlo lived with Eril-Fane's mother, as it meant that he was isolated from the others, and interaction between them was limited. I took a liking to the alchemist, Thyon Nero, who was initially Lazlo's antagonist. As I often do with characters like Thyon, I  ended up feeling sorry for him, as he was making himself ill by trying to figure out how to destroy the mesarthium. I loved that Lazlo was constantly trying to help him even though Thyon had previously been horrible to him,and I also loved that it was Thyon who finally set Lazlo on the right path to discovering who he was.

We are given little hints towards what the problem in Weep is, and I loved that the reason shocks both the reader and Lazlo simultaneously. Laini is extremely talented when it comes to descriptive writing. Her prose always flows beautifully, and I ended up with a clear image in my head of what Weep looked like. I loved that although Lazlo had studied Weep for years, it wasn't how he thought it would like, and the reader saw what it really looked like at the same time as Lazlo

I loved that there was no good vs evil in this book, only two different groups of people who had both suffered at the hands of each other. We are told what happened in Weep from both sides of the story, and I loved that one side was no better than the other. Both the Tizerkane and the Mesarthum had done terrible things to each other, and it was impossible to choose one side over the other.

One thing that I was disappointed in was the romance. Anyone who regularly reads my reviews are probably tired of hearing this now, but I really don't like instalove. Coming close behind in romance tropes that I hate are love triangles. Sadly this book contained both. Although the love triangle didn't bother me too much, the instalove did. I adored both Lazlo and Sarai as characters, but I felt as if their relationship with each other developed far too quickly, as they were apparently in love in a matter of days. I ended up not caring much about their relationship because of this, as there was no build up whatsoever. I found the multiple chapters of them doing cute things together to be quite tedious, and I couldn't help but wonder if they genuinely had feelings for each other, or if it was because it was the first time someone of the opposite gender had taken any notice of them in that way, and they were just desperate to be intimate with someone. I felt as if their relationship was too predictable, as the minute that Sarai was introduced, I knew that she was going to become a romantic interest for Lazlo. Unfortunately, I felt as if not caring about their relationship lessened the impact of the ending for me.

Something that I always love is a good plot twist, and this book definitely delivered on that! As someone who is usually good at predicting plot twists, I did not see this one coming at all! Although it is obvious from the start that there is more to Lazlo than meets the eye, I definitely did not predict that it was going to go in the direction that it did.There were little hints throughout the book about where Lazlo came from, but I completely failed to pick up on them, and was completely shocked by the big reveal. I also loved how I was completely wrong in thinking that the prologue was something that had happened before the events of the book.

Although the romance just wasn't for me, I did adore the rest of this book. I did however feel as if it could be a little confusing for readers who don't often read fantasy, as in typical fantasy fashion, the majority of the characters have unusual names, and there are many creatures that Laini has invented herself. Even though fantasy is my favourite genre, even I had trouble for half of the book, where I kept getting the name of the Gods and a type of metal confused with each other! I do however think that the majority of fantasy lovers will adore this book! As the book ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger, I can not wait to see what happens next, and I honestly don't know how i'm going to cope with the wait for the second book. I would love for Thyon to be more of a central character in the next book, as I feel as if he had potential for a redemption, and I would love it if he became friends with Lazlo! I would also love for Calixte to make a comeback, as she was an interesting character who I would love to know more about. I can not wait to attend one of Laini's book signings next month, and of course, I will definitely be reviewing the sequel the minute it is released!

Strange the Dreamer is now available to purchase!

   | Amazon | Book Depository

To anyone who lives in the UK, I just thought you might like to know that Laini is going on tour! She will be doing talks and book signings all over the country, so make sure to check out if she is coming to your town! I am going to be attending the Liverpool event and I can't wait 😃😃

Friday 24 March 2017

Review on The Felix Chronicles #3 Tides of Winter

The time has come for Felix August to choose a side. Lofton's corrupt government is getting worse by the day, murdering the innocent people who refuse to conform to the New Government. The Numbered Ones, monsters of Lofton's creation are still on the loose, along with a bigger and more terrifying threat, the Deathheads. All Felix wants is to escape and not be a part of the looming war. However, Felix soon learns he is a central part of what is happening. Felix must make a difficult decision, but will he join Lofton, or fight against him?

I was so excited when I got an email from R.T Lowe asking if I wanted to review the third book in his amazing series, The Felix Chronicles. I was surprised to discover I had read the previous book in the series six months ago, so after quickly refreshing my memory by rereading the last chapter in the previous book, I was eager to jump straight back into Felix's world.

The book starts right where the previous one left off, so I was happy there wasn't any time skips between books. The previous book ended on a huge cliffhanger, so I loved that we got to see the aftermath of what had happened. This book was action packed right from the start, and instantly reminded me of why I love this series!

The knowledge of Harper's true intentions made me look at everything in a whole new perspective, and there were times where I wished I could just shout the truth to Felix. I felt as if Harper gave little hints through her facial expressions and reactions when things weren't going her way, which Felix seemed to not pick up on. I felt sorry for Felix, as he trusted Harper completely, and had no idea of her betrayal.

One thing that I adore about this series is the characters. I love that there are plenty of strong female characters, particularly Alison. I adore her character development from the damsel in distress to the all around badass who is constantly saving Felix's life. I loved how the stereotypes were completely destroyed, with Alison being Felix's best friend and sidekick, while the damsel in distress was Lucas. Although I still felt as if Lucas wasn't in the book enough, I loved alll the scenes that included him, particularly the graveyard scene. Although Lucas is not a sourceror, he still managed to help Felix, and I love how he always seemed to notice little details that others don't. I also love how loyal he is to Felix, and often puts himself in danger for the greater good.

Although I have talked about this in reviews of the previous books, I jut have to briefly mention the relationship between Felix and Alison. Although while reading the previous book I was worried Felix and Alison's relationship would turn romantic, that never actually happened and I was extremly happy! It is rare to find a friendship like theirs in YA books, and instead of hinting at a romance, I felt as if it was taking steps to solidify their friendship rather than taking it in a different direction. Unlike the previous books, there was practically no romance in this book, and I adored that it was focusing on the action rather than a romance.

Even though The Numbered Ones return in this book, I was more interested in the new monsters, the Deathheads. The only thing more terrifying than giant spiders is giant spiders that can fly and eat you, so the Deathheads were literally my worst nightmare! I loved Felix's struggle with trying to figure out which side to take, and I loved the message that sometimes choosing sides isn't as easy as choosing between good and evil, and sometimes you just have to choose the side that is the least corrupt. Although this is a fantasy novel, I felt as if the political side to it felt like a more exteme version of current politics.

One thing that I loved learning was that Felix's powers had limitations. Felix is far from perfect, so I loved that his powers were also not perfect. Felix isn't the perfect do good protagonist, and to me he feels more like an anti hero. Felix's thirst for revenge ofter clouds his judgements, which on several occasions stops them from extracting information from their enemies.

Thi book is probably my favourite in the series so far, and I am definitely looking forward to the next one! A character who has interested me for a while now is Carter, a young sourceror who has only just started to discover his powers, and has been found by Lofton's followers. I felt as if Carter was just thirsty for knowledge, and would follow anyone who provided him with it, so I'm looking forward to him finally getting a proper storyline in the next book. I would recommend all fantasy lovers to pick up this seriess!

Tides of Winter is now available to purchase!

   | Amazon |

Thursday 16 March 2017

Review on Promised Land

Jack, a young farm boy is always getting in trouble for not doing his chores. That is until one day, Jack and his puppy, Milo, encounter a mysterious tree spirit. Jack soon bumps into Leo, a prince who's mother is under a spell by the evil Gideon. As Jack and Leo grow, so does their relationship, which soon blossoms into love. However, Leo can never be truly happy until he gets his mother back. Will Jack and Leo manage to break the spell on Queen Elena, or will they soon have no choice but to bow down to Gideon?

When I got sent a request for this book and saw that it was a picture book, I almost immediately dismissed it. I rarely ever review picture books, not because I think i'm above them, but because they're so short I feel that I will run out of things to talk about, and of course I can never do the gorgeous illustrations justice! However, when I saw the topic of this book, I knew that I had to make an exception!

The book follows a young farm boy named Jack, who is given a puppy by his mother to teach him responsibility. Jack and his puppy, Milo, soon become best friends, and explore the forest together. One day, Jack finds Prince Leo, who informs Jack his mother, Queen Elena is under a spell. I loved the friendship between the two boys, and how their relationship developed as they got older. Although the book is very short, their relationship grew over a period of time, and it felt like a very natural progression. The gorgeous illustrations of the two young men spending time together were completely adorable, and I loved how it was shown as such a healthy relationship. I adored that although there was such a huge class difference between them, they treated each other as equals.

One thing that I adored was the complete lack of homophobia. Children's fairy tales often involve a prince falling in love with a peasant girl, or vise versa, and this story felt as if could have come straight from Disney, except the characters who fall in love just so happen to both be male. I adored that although the characters had problems, non of them stemmed from their relationship with each other. I loved how accepting their parents were when they informed them of their relationship, as they acted no differently than if they had been a straight couple, which of course is how all parents should react. We definitely need more books like this to teach children that it doesn't matter what the gender of the person someone falls in love with is, and that love is love.

I have to talk about the map at the start of the book! Although the characters don't actually visit most of the locations on the map, I still loved it, and found it extremely clever that all the locations were named after LGBT celebrities. Although I was a little disappointed the characters never actually visited Mt. Ellen, I was happy that it existed in their world.

The female characters in this book were fantastic! I particularly loved Leo's mother, Queen Elena, and I loved that Leo looked up to her and wanted to grow up to be just like her. She was definitely not a damsel in distress, and I loved how she ended up saving herself and everyone else. I also loved Carol, Jack's mother, who stood her ground against the villain and refused to give up her land. As there is no mentioned of Leo and Jack's fathers, I can only assume that both of these women are single parents who have both succeeded in raising brave, intelligent and kind sons.

The only negative thing I have to say is it was extremely short! Although I do realise it is a picture book and that is just how picture books are, I loved these characters and with all the locations on the map that we never learnt about, I felt as if it had potential to be developed into a children's chapter book. This book has done a fantastic job at normalising LGBT people, and I honestly wish all young children could read it. This was a lovely dedication to the Pulse 49 who tragically lost their lives, and I recommend this fantastic book to all parents who have young children!

Promised Land is now available to purchase!

   | Amazon | Promised Land Store

Thursday 9 March 2017

Reviewing the Classics #8 The Great Gatsby

Goodreads Summary:

Invited to an extravagantly lavish party in a Long Island mansion, Nick Carraway, a young bachelor who has just settled in the neighbouring cottage, is intrigued by the mysterious host, Jay Gatsby, a flamboyant but reserved self-made man with murky business interests and a shadowy past. As the two men strike up an unlikely friendship, details of Gatsby’s impossible love for a married woman emerge, until events spiral into tragedy.

Regarded as Fitzgerald's masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of American literature, The Great Gatsby is a vivid chronicle of the excesses and decadence of the "Jazz Age", as well as a timeless cautionary critique of the American dream.

For my first classic of the year, I have decided to go for one of my favourites! I first read this book as part of my English Literature degree, and I loved it just as much then as I do now. However. As Alma books sent me a gorgeous new copy, I decided it was time for a reread. The book follows Nick Carraway, a man who has recently moved to New York. Nick soon meets his neighbour, Jay Gatsby, a wealthy man with a mysterious past. Of course there are a number of themes that run throughout this short novel, including the American Dream, wealth and social classes. I feel as if this would be too essay like if I went into too much detail about the themes, so I am going to stick with what I do best and talk about the story line and characters!

When the average person thinks of a classic, they probably think of books with hundreds of pages that are often long winded and contain archaic language. One thing that I love about The Great Gatsby is how short it is. I do feel as if some classics can drag out and get a little boring, so I love how The Great Gatsby is short and to the point while still feeling that it is enough to fully immerse you in the story, and not feel as if it is too short to tell Gatsby's story. I feel as if this is the perfect book for anyone who wants to read a classic, but finds Jane Ausen and Charlotte Bronte's books to be a little overwhelming, as this book can easily be read in one sitting.

I have always adored the setting of The Great Gatsby, as I love reading about The Jazz Age. I think everyone has wished at some point that they could attend a party just like Gatsby's, and I love reading the party scenes! I also love how American this book is, and I especially love that it is set in New York.

The characters in this book are interesting, with their different beliefs and class status'. I love that non of these characters are perfect, as even Nick has his own problems. I think that the character who we all mutually hate the most is Daisy's husband, Tom Buchanan. Along with cheating on his wife, Tom is extremely classist ans racist, believing in white supremacy. Tom believe he is better than others because he is a rich white man, and the book makes it extremely easy to hate him. I think it's interesting that although Tom is a terrible person, he doesn't suffer any consequences for it, which really shows the truth that money talks, and rich, corrupt people tend to do well in society.

One thing that has always drawn me to Gatsby's character is how mysterious he is. Few facts are known about his past, and each character who Nick comes across seems to have different theories about his past. Although Nick describes Gatsby as being his friend, he is not even aware that he still has living family members, and is shocked when Gatsby's dad shows up.

The Great Gatsby has certainly earned it's title of being a classic, and I love how many of the issues raised are still relevant almost 100 years later. This book will forever be one of my all time favourite classics!

The Great Gatsby is now available to purchase!

 Alma Classics  | Amazon Book Depository 

Thursday 2 March 2017

Review on Damage

Gabi is grief stricken after he grandfather dies. Her mother refuses to talk about him, and she doesn't want to weigh her friends down with her own burdens. The only thing that ever seems to take her mind off it is skateboarding at her local skate park. Soon, even this isn't a good enough distraction for Gabi, and she turns to self harm. Gabi's friends must help her through these upsetting times, and make he realise that she doesn't have to bare the burden alone, and it is okay to ask for help.

I always find it the most difficult to read and review book on sensitive subjects such as this one. This book focuses on self harm, an upsetting but important topic that shouldn't be ignored. It is a myth that young people self harm for attention, and a fact that many don't let their friends and families know they are self harming. Books like Damage are extremely important in helping people receive a more accurate interpretation of what it's like for young people who self harm.

The book focuses on Gabi, a fifteen year old who has recently lost her grandfather. Although the first few pages of the book did immediately draw me in, I did feel as if it was overall too spoilery, as it is actually a repetition of a chapter towards the end of the book. It is not difficult to work out what is about to happen, so I felt as if it was a little anti-climatic that half of the book was building up to an event that we already knew was going to happen. As the blurb on the back of the book mentions Gabi having a terrible secret, I wasn't too sure if revealing that secret to the reader in the first few pages was the best idea.

The book is split into two parts, with half of it focusing on Gabi's present life, and the other half on the build up to the death of Gabi's grandfather. I loved that I was equally interested in both parts of the story, as usually when this happens in books, I tend to prefer one story over the other. Although the main focus of the book is self harm, I loved that other important topics were also briefly dealt with, such as alcoholism, anxiety and depression. I loved Gabi's best friend, Amira, and as someone who has anxiety, she was the character who I related to the most. Amira is constantly worrying about little thing that to most people would seem trivial, but to people with anxiety can feel like the end of the world. I also loved the pre-party scene, as I know I would have reacted exactly like Amira in that situation.

Gabi is reluctant to let her friends and family know she is self harming. However, she does post on a self harm forum, and talks to strangers online who are going through the same thing as her. I loved that although she felt unable to tell anyone she knew, she did realise that she couldn't face her problems alone, and needed help. Talking to a stranger can often be easier than talking to a family member, so I loved how she was getting advise to seek help. However, the sad truth is that there are a lot of trolls online, who could do more harm than good, so although the forum did help Gabi, I felt as if it could easily have gone wrong, and people in a similar situation to Gabi should instead call a confidential helpline.

I loved that although Gabi assumed that her friends would judge her, that wasn't the case at all. They were extremely understanding, and tried to help her as best as they could. We all deal with grief in certain ways, but the most important thing to realise is we never have to suffer alone, as there is always help out there. I found it upsetting that Gabi's mother would shut down every time Gabi tried to talk to her about her grandfather, as I felt as if it would have been extremely beneficial for both of them to be able to talk about their problems.

One thing I didn't like too much was that the ending was rather ambiguous. Although it is up to the reader to be optimistic, I would have preferred it if the reader had been driven towards the direction of Gabi getting help. It is extremely important for readers who are self harming to see that there is help available, and I was a little disappointed that Gabi wasn't used as a better role model.

I loved that there were helplines and websites at the back of the book, and I feel as if any book that deals with important topics like this should include these. I have learnt a lot about self harm from reading this book, and think Eve Ainsworth has done a brilliant job writing on such a sensitive subject.

Damage is now available to purchase!

   | Amazon Book Depository