My reading plan for 2018 #amreading #fantasy #ya #thriller

This year has been busy in various ways and I have not read as much as I would’ve liked. My Goodreads challenge was 35 books and so far I have only read 29. I thought making a list for the rest of the year would help me get back on track.

So here goes.

Currently reading – Magic Study by Maria V Snyder. As with the first book I find the writing totally addictive and if I read nothing else but these books this year I would be happy.

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ARC – Not Like Everyone Else by Jennifer Leigh. This is a YA thriller I’ve been interested in since following Jenn’s blog and I am going to read this before 2018 ends.

 

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Self Published Fantasy Blog Off books – I bought lots of SPFBO books in the last SPFBO sale which I have yet to read. Here’s my post about the bargains I picked up. Now there is another sale 15th to 19th November so I will be getting even more books to add to my TBR list which already has 400 books! I really hope to read at least another one off this list and perhaps I may even share a surprise review from my husband who is currently reading one of SPFBO books – surprise because he has no idea I’ve mentioned this!

My Xmas Read – For the last three years I have read the latest Great Library book by Rachel Caine. This year I will be reading Smoke and Iron – book 4. My son started the series a few weeks ago and has already started the 4th book. I had planned to give it to myself as a Christmas present, but he begged to read it first!

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Audio book – Still listening to Gilded Cage by Vic James which has been enjoyable so far. I like the voice of the narrator and she has brought the story to life for me. It does seem a bit slow, but I’m happy to stick at it.

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Book Group Read – Sweet Dreams by Tricia Sullivan

This one sounds intriguing!

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Books I’ve Won – I have been lucky enough to win two books recently and I can’t wait to read them.  City of Lies by Sam Hawke and Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce. I would love to read and review these before the end of 2018.

So these books will take me to my Goodreads target of 35 books, but life and writing does have a habit of getting in the way. Fingers crossed I find some uninterrupted reading time!

 

#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview Poison Study by Maria V Snyder #YAFantasy

Poison Study is a brilliant, compelling read. Here’s the blurb…

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

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My Review

This was my book groups choice and I am so, so happy they chose it!

It is such a compelling book. I took it on holiday and I just couldn’t stop reading it. The beauty of reading an old paperback copy is that you can take it everywhere with you and sneak in a few pages when no one is looking! I had some very late nights with this book as well, and it’s one of those that if you had the next book handy, there’s no way you could resist picking it up and diving straight into the next adventure. I have now brought the next two books – Magic Study and Fire Study and I’m itching to find the time to read them. I have another holiday coming up so I might have to sneak them in the suitcase.

Why I loved this YA Fantasy.

In one word – Yelena. She is a brilliant character to follow and I liked her instantly. The first person viewpoint helps you build a bond with her and her story. At the start she is in prison for a murder that she never denies committing, but you have no idea of the details surrounding it. That’s just a small part of the intrigue that keeps you reading. On the day of her planned execution she is given the chance to escape death by becoming the Commander’s food taster. Of course she accepts but quickly realises this isn’t to be an easy life. Her master, Valek, turns out to be a harsh and sometime cruel master – but he really grows on you. Both Valek and Yelena are my favourite characters and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2.

I loved the little details in this book, in particular the lessons on poison tasting. I’m informed this is all well researched and that really comes across. I would have liked more focus on this aspect in the plot, just because I love herbs, potions and assassins, but it was still a highly addictive read. Every chapter forced you to read the next. It is a masterclass for authors on how to craft a pager-turner.

There are some darker elements to the story that as adults you will pick up on, but I hope younger YA readers just take what’s on the page and not think too deeply about what’s happened. I am looking forward to my (nearly) 14-year-old son reading these books and I think in a couple of years my daughter will love them too. It is certainly a book I wish I had discovered in my teens, and I don’t say that about many books.

Highly recommended – 5 very big fat stars from me!

Have you read it?

Here’s the Goodreads link if my review has enticed you to find out more. With almost 120K ratings, 10k reviews and an overall star rating of 4.15, you can see this books has been loved by many people!

#Tuesdaybookblog #bookreview Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine #Fantasy #YA

This is the first book review I have written this year and what better way to start than with Book 3 in the YA fantasy series The Great Library. Originally thought to be the last book in the trilogy (at least by me) I was delighted to hear that Book 4 is due out later in 2018.

For those of you who don’t know the series, I can highly recommend it. Please see my reviews of Book 1 – Ink and Bone and Book 2 – Paper and Fire.

Here’s the blurb for Book 3 – Ash and Quill

Held prisoner by the Burner forces in Philadelphia, Jess and his friends struggle to stay alive in the face of threats from both sides … but a stunning escape guarantees worse is coming. The Library now means to stop them by any means necessary, and they’ll have to make dangerous allies and difficult choices to stay alive.

They have only two choices: face the might of the Great Library head on, or be erased from life, and the history of the world, for ever.

Win or die.

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My review

Ash and Quill picks up where book two finished, with Jess and the gang captured and transported to Philadelphia. It was interesting to get to know the Burners and there are some explosive moments in store!

It is harder to review books from a series without spoilers, so I just want to say that this is another exciting read, full of action, intrigue, plotting, double-crossing and a touch of romance. I love the interaction between the characters, especially Jess and Morgan, and I just want them to save the world and have their happy ever after. Of course that’s never going to happen until they take down the Great Library who have upped the stakes and will do anything, even commit mass murder to stop them.

As with the other books in the series, this is a fast paced story that drags you along and keeps you interested to the last page.

This is a 5 star read and I cannot wait for book 4.

Goodreads link

Blog Tour: A Woman Scorned Guest Post by Rebecca Howie @RebeccaH2016 #Mystery #YA

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here and I’m really pleased to break back into blogging with a guest post from Rebecca Howie during her pre release blog tour. Her second novel, A Woman Scorned is book 2 in The Sam Beckett Mysteries and will be released on 10th December. It’s already available for pre-order, I’ve included a link further below in the post.

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When I agreed to join Rebecca’s blog tour, the first thing that sprung to mind was why did she choose to write YA mystery. I love detectives and mystery thrillers, but it isn’t something I’m familiar with in the YA genre. I was fascinated by Rebecca’s response, so here is her guest post on the subject…

Why I chose YA

After a very long year of writer’s block, false-starts and dead-ends, I finally managed to finish my second novel in October, and with the last words written, I’ve been taking a well-earned break. But that didn’t last long, because when Suzanne generously offered to be a stop on my blog tour and I got started planning my guest post, it got me thinking about my decision to write The Game Begins, and the reasons I made it a YA mystery instead of just a regular mystery with a regular ex-alcoholic grump of a detective.

And the truth is, there wasn’t really a conscious decision to start writing a YA mystery novel. I’d been out of school for almost six months, and I was writing because I suddenly found myself with loads of free time on my hands and didn’t have anything else to do, and I was almost halfway through a first draft before I decided I wanted to keep going with it and see where it ended up.

It wasn’t a surprise that The Game Begins ended up as a YA Mystery, because I loved YA novels before I knew they were called YA novels and I have too many mysteries on my bookshelves to even attempt to count them, but I can remember why I started that first draft, the reason I logged out of my Archive of our Own account and opened a new Word document, and that was a question I started asking myself a few months after I’d left school and was spending most of my time writing fanfiction.

Writing was a coping mechanism for me I didn’t know I needed until I’d finished the first draft of The Game Begins and looked back over it and realised that if someone gave me a decade’s worth of therapy vouchers, they’d be well received, and with the emotional upheaval of ending what was basically a thirteen-year prison sentence (or, as some people know it, school), I was writing a lot.

But after a few months of this, I started to find myself getting annoyed, because I’d realised that regardless of who was writing their own version of their favourite detective, they never wrote about the ‘tragic backstory’ until the action was winding down and the main characters needed something to talk about.

And that was where I got the idea for The Game Begins: I couldn’t understand why detective stories always started in the middle, and never started from the beginning.

Was there some kind of rule which said that every fictional detective or PI needed to be middle-aged? And divorced with a daughter who used to worship the ground they walked on but now hated their guts?

Why couldn’t they be detectives in their teenage years? Why did we have to read about the traumatic childhood events when they were in their forties, instead of when those traumatic events were actually taking place?

It seemed like a simple question at the time, but after writing two books in an attempt to answer it, I think I understand why everyone prefers to use flashbacks or the occasional therapy session. Although that being said, I am only two books in, and Sam has plenty of stories left to tell.

***

Thanks very much Rebecca, I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the Sam Beckett Mysteries series.

Book 2 – A Woman Scorned is available now for preorder.

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Blurb

Returning home days after leaving town wasn’t a decision Sam Beckett made lightly, and the newspaper articles detailing her shooting aren’t making her choice any easier to accept.

When a therapist is found dead in her office, Sam decides to work with CID and Detective Marshall on the case, hoping that the dead woman’s troubles will be enough to help her forget her own. but with Dr Weiss’ perfect image slowly crumbling as the investigation progresses, Sam finds that she isn’t the only person hiding behind a lie, and that uncovering someone else’s could have been what led Dr Weiss to her death.

***

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of A Woman Scorned and look forward to sharing my review in the new year.

If you haven’t read book one – The Game Begins, I recently reviewed this on my blog (review). And here’s the Amazon link of you want to check it out.

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I wish Rebecca every success with her new novel and look forward to reading more of Sam’s adventures in the future. And I hope you will be inspired by this young author and pre-order her book now.

#tuesdaybookblog The Game Begins by Rebecca Howie @RebeccaH2016 #ya #mystery #bookreview

Today I’m reviewing a mystery book with a difference, it’s a YA featuring a budding young P.I. Sam Beckett.

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Blurb

It’s been four years since the car crash took away her father and Sam Beckett’s nightmares are back with a vengeance.

When her friend suggests she take a PI course to distract herself, Sam agrees, but she soon realises it won’t be as simple as she expected when her first case leads to a woman being killed, her husband accused of her murder, and a series of threatening text messages sent to her phone which lead Sam to believe that her father’s crash might not be the accident everyone thought it was.

My Review

I’ve always loved mysteries, even going back to my childhood when I couldn’t get enough of Scooby Doo. I’ve read countless novels and watched all the shows with their alcoholic, divorced or generally messed up detectives and P.I’s. For a long time I’ve been wanting something different. The Game Begins delivers an altogether different protagonist.

Sam is young (17 and still in school), and haunted by the accident that killed her dad. She suffered memory loss after the accident but she believes there is more to it than anyone else will admit. So she takes a P.I course, deciding to find out the answers for herself.

Her first case is something so mundane that you wonder if its worth her time. Then things start to spiral out of control.

Detective Marshall turns up on the scene and I really want Sam to trust him, but she soon feels she doesn’t know who she can trust.

Shocking events lead up to even more shocking revelations and towards the end you are rooting for Sam to get to the truth and get her life back together.

I really like Sam and Marshall, and I will certainly be reading the next book, A Woman Scorned, which is due to be released in December 2017.

My rating – I have been wavering between a 4 and 4.5 stars as I really feel this is a promising start to a new P.I. series.

There were a few typos and a couple of points in the story that I thought could have been more developed, but otherwise it was an entertaining read from a young, up and coming author.

FYI – Next month Rebecca Howie joins me for a guest post during book 2’s release.

You can check out her website for details.

The Game Begins is on Amazon UK and Amazon US and Goodreads.

#Bookreview Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine #fantasy #YAFantasy

My first book review of the year and it’s a 5 star read!

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

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LET THE WORLD BURN

With an iron fist, the Great Library ruthlessly controls the knowledge of the world, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but his life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered for ever. Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe any more. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or a Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control . . .

My Review

This will be a short and sweet review for the second book in the Great Library series. As with the first book I was drawn in from the start. The story picked up a few months after book 1 ended and was pretty much straight back into the action. The characters were further developed with a few surprises, and plenty of doubts about who can be trusted. You discover a lot more about this alternative world history and the library’s hold over everything as it’s all about to come crashing down.

As I read this book, I found myself constantly wishing they would make it into a film. I could picture the action so clearly in my head, that I was desperate to see it on the big screen.

I loved this book as much as the first and highly recommend the series. As far as I’m concerned the writing is flawless and additive.

There are very few scene breaks in the book, so the story flows along and carries you with it. Many times I wanted to stop reading (I need sleep after all) but the book just wouldn’t let me. I had to keep reading to find out what happened next; I wasn’t disappointed.

Now I have the long wait until book 3 is released. Ahh…

I hope I’ve encouraged you to give this a try. Plus here’s the link to my review of book 1 Ink and Bone. It was my favourite read in 2015. Both books are 5 star reads, you can’t go wrong!

Buy Paper and Fire now on Amazon uk or Amazon US

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2017 has started out brilliantly for books. I have a 5 star audio review coming up and another fantasy book which so far is another 5 star read.

My favourite reads of 2016 #amreading #greatreads

I’ve read more in 2016 than I have in years thanks to taking up the Goodreads reading challenge and joining Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Here are some of the books that have stayed with me long after I finished reading them.

Favourite Children’s book – Fire Bed and Bone by Henrietta Bradford

My review & My Family Review

Featured Image -- 3569  I loved this book and shared it with my family. It was an interesting experiment to get the different opinions from a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old and my husband (whose age I’m sure he wouldn’t want me to mention!).

Favourite YA book – The Sapphire Legend by E.L. Tenenbaum

My Review

26248087 This fantasy book took me by surprise and I have been longing to read the sequel. I definitely will in 2017.

Favourite Indie and fantasy – The Crown of Stones by C.L. Schneider

My Review

20319844 I was drawn to the cover of this book from the start and the book didn’t disappoint. A great fantasy, and another trilogy I hope to finish in 2017.

Favourite Thriller – Distress Signals by Catherin Ryan Howard

My review

distress signals cover image This book led to some very late nights! A compelling thriller and I bet you won’t see the twist coming!

Favourite Romance – Late Summer in the Vineyards by Jo Thomas

My Review

51qenardljl I loved this book for the atmosphere and the wonderful feel good factor it had.

Favourite Audio book – Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge

My Review

51fbBPM9h9L._SY346_  This was a thriller I just couldn’t stop listening to. It had that all important mystery element, and like the main character I didn’t know who to trust. It reminded me of ‘Before I go to Sleep’. Both truly great reads.

In all I read 33 books during 2016. Now I can’t wait to see what books 2017 has in store.

Have you read any of these books, and if not have I inspired you to add them to your TBR lists?

 

#Tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview Rise of the Sparrows – Sarina Langer #fantasy

Title – Rise of the Sparrows Book 1 of the Relics of Ar’zac

Author – Sarina Langer

Genre – YA Fantasy

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First thoughts

I was really pleased to have won a paperback copy of this book during its blog tour back in May. I’d already bought the book on kindle, but it was great to be able to read the paperback. I think the cover’s great and I was pulled in by the blurb.

Blurb

Growing up homeless and orphaned in a town that hates her, Rachael must assassinate the king of Rifarne to become queen to a people who once wanted her dead. Rifarne is a country opposed to magic. When its people demand harsh action, King Aeric sees himself with no other choice but to outlaw those with the gift. Rachael, who possesses the rare gift of a Seer, soon finds herself with visions of her own violent death. When her escape goes wrong and she ends up in the clutches of a vicious Mist Woman lusting for her blood, she finds she is the only person who can stop the war against people like her – and assassinating the king to take his throne may well be the only way to do just that.

My summary

This is a really great start to a new fantasy series. I like how the background is slowly built up with regards to the history of the people / magic and the prophecy surrounding Rachel. Not everything is revealed in book 1 which makes you want to read on and discover what mysteries are surrounding the Ar’zac.

Characters

The main character is Rachel. I liked Rachel and her attitude to self-preservation, although her continued mistrust of everyone did get to me. But she is an orphan from the streets and I could fully relate to her not willing to trust a single person after the harsh reality of her every day existence. Maybe it’s because I liked Cale (the leader of the Sparrows) from the moment he first showed up and wanted Rachel to put her trust in him more quickly.

Writing style / Viewpoints

There are several viewpoint characters, which were handled with skill. It helped drive the story forward at the right moments and made me able to care more for the other characters. At times I thought the readers were drawn into the characters thoughts a little too much though, especially towards the end when I was desperate to see the story reach its climax through the action without being slowed down by introspect.

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. It was a well written, easy read with a page-turning storyline.

I look forward to reading more of Rachel and Cale’s story and seeing what the future throws at them. The end of the epilogue certainly leaves me wanting to pick up the next book.

Recommend to

YA fantasy and fantasy fans in general

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

Check out the book for yourself Amazon UK   Amazon US   Goodreads

#Bookreview Phoenix by Daccai Buchelli #YAfantasy #RBRT

Phoenix – Book 1 Peradon Series

Author – Daccari Buchelli

Genre – YA Fantasy

Reviewing as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review team.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

I received a copy from the author and have given my unbiased opinion.

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Blurb

Magic never ceased to bring Violetta joy, until the day it became her curse. Aged fifteen, the young Flame Mage and Princess finds herself drawn to her sworn enemy, the Frost Emperor Ryore. Torn between her sudden feelings and inescapable duty to the throne, Violetta seeks to strike a balance. Will she surrender her will forever, or strive for freedom by doing the unthinkable?

My review

Phoenix is a fantasy book and book #1 of the Peradon series. It opens with immediate intrigue as a seer tells Emperor Jugan of a future marriage between his eldest son and their enemy. To avoid this fate, the Emperor decides to have Violetta assassinated. This sets in motion events that drive the story and greatly affects Violette’a life.

There are lots of good ideas in this book but several seem rushed and I longed for them to be developed deeper for the reader to understand. I also struggled to get my head around the different kingdoms, I wanted the writing to give me a clearer picture. I’m sure the author has a brilliant image of his fantasy land in his head, I just couldn’t see the pictures he wanted me to see.

There is a large cast of people and places to remember from the start. I’m not sure it was necessary to introduce them all at once, better perhaps to slow down the action and drip the characters into the storyline, so the reader stands a chance of really knowing the main characters from the beginning.

There’s definitely a good story in here, it just needs a bit of a re-write to sort out some of the weaker areas of the plot, head hopping on occasions by the characters and tweaking of punctuation errors. There are also a few minor formatting errors with regard to the unnecessary indenting of first paragraphs of new chapters and scenes, which is easy to resolve and doesn’t detract from the story.

I think another run through edit would vastly improve things from a readers point of view.

With a little more work, I think this is an author to watch out for in the future.

My rating 3 stars

Check out the book on Goodreads

#Tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview The Sapphire Legend by E.L.Tenenbaum #YA #RBRT

Title – The Sapphire Legend Part 1

Author – E.L Tenenbaum

Genre – YA Fantasy

I received a free copy from the author in exchange of an honest review – via Rose Amber’s Book Review team.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Blurb

Sapere has always been different. In her tribe, select families are blessed with a gift that is passed through the generations from father to son. But something went wrong when Sapere was born, because she has her family’s gift and she shouldn’t.

When Saphere’s village is attacked the night of her wedding, the survivors flee to the Wild in hopes of finding refuge in a dangerous place stalked by deadly predators. There they struggle to protect what little remains of their tribe and their traditions, many of which don’t seem to fit into their new life. Out here, Sapere feels like an outsider on the precipice of two worlds unable to fit into the old way, unaccepted by the new, and terrified of being shunned by both.

Through the survivors’ fight for survival, Sapere learns that she can be a victim of circumstances or master of fate. Can she rise above the nature of her birth and mold her own future? Can she be herself and earn the villagers’ respect? Or will she forever be shackled by the anomaly that makes her different?

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First Thoughts

I loved the cover of the book and the title was intriguing. I also felt like trying something a bit different to the standard fantasy format. This world of tribal life was just what I was looking for.

Summary

The first few chapters are read with anticaption as you know from the blurb that something terrible is about to happen. But the author allows you to get to know the main character, Sapere and understand her situation before throwing her life into turmoil. I like how the tribal world and their beliefs are put across. There is no info dump, you learn as you go along.

Characters

Sapere was a good main character in a difficult situation. At points I did find her a little naïve with regards to the other characters feelings, but overall I really liked her. I liked the supporting cast of Reo and Venatore and wanted them all to find happiness after everything they had been through.

Writing Style

It is very unusual for me to read a book in first person present tense. It worked well for this story and I really enjoyed the change of style.

Issues with the book

The only fault I could point out with this book would be the description of some of the animals in the Wild. They sounded suspiciously like snakes and elephants. I understand that the characters may not have known the animal names, but it seemed unlikely and pulled me out of the story. As I read these passages, I was reminded of a famous piece of writing advice,  though I’ve no idea who said it. ‘If it looks and sounds like a rabbit, call it a rabbit.’ Or something along those lines.

Final Thoughts

Although at points I thought the story might be a bit too small and insular, I really came to love the world the author created. I couldn’t believe the story ended where it did and was desperate to find out more. I’ve already bought the second book and look forward to reading and reviewing it in the future.

Recommend to

I would happily recommend this to those who enjoy YA Fantasy and fantasy in general.

Rating: 5 stars (for a while it was a 4 star book, but it certainly grew on me and by the end it was definitely a 5 star read).

To buy links Amazon UK  Amazon com