Review: Half a King by Joe Armstrong

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I was very lucky to be sent an advanced readers copy of Half a King by Joe Armstrong. I read this one on my Kindle so I have no clue what size it is, although on Goodreads it says it’s 352 pages. On first impressions I wasn’t so sure about this book. I’m a fantasy fan, although I prefer the novels I read to have mythical creatures (especially dragons). This seemed to be similar to game of thrones, but without the magic.

This book is about a prince (I’m not so sure of his age, although I would estimate him being about 16) whose father and older brother die in battle. He is left to rule the country, but lacks the strength of a leader. He preferred to study and renounce his titles. His soldiers don’t respect him, and it would seem that neither does his family. The story tackles how the prince overcomes his difficulties and fulfills an oath.

I was so excited to read a book where the main character, Yarvi, is a person with a disability. This is not common in books and is extremely refreshing. Armstrong does really well to make sure that Yarvi is represented as a human being first and I think this is important for all authors to remember.

The other characters are amazing, with lots of strong females to balance it out. These include an alcoholic pirate captain and an intelligent queen. Yarvi reminded me a little bit of Tyrion Lannister, he has the same sarcastic and witty defences that make him so loveable.

Whilst this book is set in a fantasy land, which is very much like medieval England, it was a coming of age story. It definitely went against the normal tropes. Who else discovers themselves whilst they are battling pirates?

It could also be set in a post-apocalyptic future. Lots of references to elves (which could be interpreted at 21st century humans) and the shattered sea (nuclear war, bombs). I enjoyed seeing how Joe Armstrong interprets his view of the future and it’s certainly different to anything I’ve read before.

It is action packed and the action is extremely well written. I like fight scenes that I am able to work out in my head and I had so much fun reading about all the blood and the gore. The book is also quite sad in some places, although I won’t tell you where because I think it is best you find out for yourself.

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the diversity of the characters and the fast paced action. My first impression was definitely wrong and I will be reading more books in this series, as well as other works by the author. It comes out on the 15th July and I recommend you go pick up a copy.

Erin

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Flashback Friday: Maximum Ride

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This weeks Flashback Friday is about one of my all time favorite book series, Maximum Ride by James Patterson. If you are not familiar with the concept of the series, I shall explain. Max and her adopted siblings escaped from a medical testing facility. They have been there since they were babies. They are every day children, apart from one distinct difference. They have wings. They have been living fairly secluded in the mountains, but now the doctors want them back, and they will go to any lengths to find them.

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I really enjoyed this series for 2 reasons. Mainly because although they are billed as YA, 8 year old Erin enjoyed them immensely. They were easy to read and the thrilling story line kept me occupied for hours. Secondly, I enjoyed them because they raised some serious issues that I really enjoyed learning about. Obviously there would be the issue of medical ethics, but it also raises the issue of discrimination.

I have looked at how many books are in the series and I am missing the last one. Guess what I’ll be going out to buy later. I honestly recommend this series if anyone is looking for a bad ass female lead and action fueled adventures.

Erin

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Waiting on Wednesday: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

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This weeks Waiting on Wednesday is more of a recommendation than a book I’m actually waiting on. I was very lucky to be sent Solitaire by the lovely people at Harper Collins to read and review. It will be published on the 31st July and without giving too much away, It was amazing. I’ll post an in depth review sometime next week.

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog.
Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

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This is Alice Oseman’s debut novel, and she’s only 19. I urge you too add this to your TBR piles. Especially if you’re a fan of John
Green or Rainbow Rowell!

Erin

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Cover Trends

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I am finally back! The last week or so has been extremely stressful because of exams, so I haven’t been able to blog. However, I am now free so I should be able to post quite regularly. This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is about our favorite and not so favorite book cover trends. I’m going to do 5 of each.

Favourite Trends:

  • Cartoons are one of my favorite types of book covers. The little drawings help give the book an interesting atmosphere. If you don’t like imagining an character based on the cover, these help to give and impression but not dictate an opinion.
  • I really like dark romances that have black covers. They all look amazing on my shelf together.
  • I like books in a series that have similar but not identical covers. When they are together they really blend in well and look like a collection.
  • I like special editions of books where they are bound in fabrics or have gilded letters. I think it makes it so much more special to read.
  • I’m kind of obsessed with books that have minimalist covers. I like how they are not cluttered, yet give a really good impression of the story.

Not so Favorite Trends:

  • I hate it immensely when books change their covers during the middle of a series. I still have the first editions of all the books, however they look horrible as a series.
  • On another rant about changing books in the middle of a series, I don’t like it when they change the size of the book. I know this is not necessarily to do with the cover, but how can I fit them all on one shelf if book 6 is twice the height of book 1.
  • I’m not paricually a fan of having other authors quotes on the front of book. I think it’s okay to have them on the back cover because I like to know opinions. However, I think a front cover should be a celebration of the author that wrote the book. Not the one who is a little bit more famous.
  • I’m not really a fan of movie covers. I think we might all agree on this one. There are some great ones, although the majority of the time they ruin the look of it.
  • I also really dislike it when Stock Photos are used to create the cover of the book. Even if you’re self publishing, it wouldn’t be that much to hire someone to help. After all, you want to sell that book and a good cover will help. Originality is the key when trying to sell a product.

This turned into a little bit of a rant, oopsy. I have a few reviews coming up which I am really excited about. What are your favorite and not so favorite book cover trends?

Erin

Author Interview: Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

This post is so exciting! I got the chance to interview the authors of the book Branded and asked them some interesting questions. I want to say thank you very much to both of them for being so lovely and taking the time out of their busy schedule for me. This book is a dystopian novel but unfortunately the conditions aren’t that different from those in some countries today. The characters are great and the plot line is really interesting! If you haven’t read Branded by now then you seriously need to.

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It’s always interesting having two authors writing a novel together. How did the two of you meet?

 We met at college orientation in 1999 and have stayed in touch since, regardless of the stage of life we were in.

 What made you decide to write together?

This is probably the most popular question people ask us. We have always talked about & shared books we enjoyed. We’ve also been close friends since 1999, so our friendship has already weathered a lot of changes. We used to meet to talk about books we were reading when we considered writing one of our own.

 What inspired you to come up with the plot for the novel?

Abi came up with the concept, and from there we built an entire society. Sadly, it wasn’t too hard to write because there are places in our world today where governments are unjust, people are murdered or displaced and left to fend for themselves.

 Many Dystopian series are comprised of 3 books. How many can we expect from yours?

As of now, 3 are in the works.

Do you have any authors that you look up to for inspiration?

 Abi- Right now, I love John Green. But for the both of us, all other authors are inspirations to us, because now we know how hard it is to not only write a novel, but publish one as well.

 Do you have a favourite character from your novel? (Mine is definitely Zeus)

ZEUS!!!!

 Do you have a favourite character from another novel?

 Abi- I would have to say Hazel from The Fault In Our Stars. I am a hospice nurse and I connected with her character in so many ways. Plus, she was just an amazing person with incredible strength. John Green made a masterpiece.

 What are your favourite Young Adult novels? 

The Fault In Our Stars, The Hunger Games & Catching Fire, Divergent & Insurgent, Twilight, New moon and Eclipse

What books are you most looking forward to reading this summer?

The Murder Complex By Lindsay Cummings, which should be in my hands when this is posted J  -Abi

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Advice to up and coming authors- Stick with it. Believe in it. Find a good editor. Find reputable bloggers that will give you an honest opinion & believe in your book! Ask other authors for advice when you need it. The indie community is very supportive if you just ASK. It won’t be easy, and it’s definitely a long process, but it’s worth the effort when you can say you wrote a book!!!

Erin

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Have Read This Year

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I’m finally back! Here are the top ten books I have read this year so far. I keep track of the books I have read on Goodreads and have currently read 31 out of my goal of 50. They are in no particular order.

  1. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. I loved this one so much, you can see my review here.
  2. Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Although I actually didn’t cry at it, I love this book and the whole series with all my heart.
  3. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. If you haven’t read this series then I highly recommend that you do. I read all three of these books in 3 days and fell in love. Also a movie is coming out in the autumn.
  4. Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Although I actually found the story line a little bit predictable, that didn’t stop me from falling in love with the characters.
  5. The Enemy by Charlie Higson. This is actually a re read from a couple of years ago when I went through my zombie phase. It’s still as good though.
  6. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I’m not usually a fan of autobiographies but this one really drew me in. Malala is one of my heroes and I really recommend you read her book.
  7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I’ve read this at least six times.
  8. One Day by David Nicholls. One of my friends gave me a spoiler for this, though it didn’t change how brilliant it was.
  9. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time by Mark Haddon. Everyone was bugging me to read this for a while. I finally did and fell in love.
  10. Half a King by Joe Armstrong. I only finished this last week and I really enjoyed it.

Erin

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Review: Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

branded

Today’s review is of Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki. I enjoyed this book immensely and finished it in a few hours, although the fact that I was procrastinating doing revision probably had something to do with that as well. I’m normally wary of novels with two authors as I haven’t particularly gotten on with them in the past. (See Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.) However, the combined forces of Abi and Missy really work well in this book. The plot is extremely strong and it’s difficult to notice that two people had a hand in writing it.

I’m a sucker for forbidden love and this book certainly has it’s fair share. It is set in a world where sinners are sent to ‘The Hole’. A sort of city closed in by walls. Once they are there sinners are given jobs that they must do, apart from that they are free to live their lives. The only problem is the guards. They watch the sinners day and night to make sure that no illegal behaviour happens, especially not fraternisation between a guard and a sinner. The love story is kind of obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting.

“You’ve got to be kidding me! Do they have a sex radar or something?” – Cole

The main character is called Lexi, she’s from the high society and is wrongly accused of a crime. I really liked the character of Lexi, probably more than I like Katniss. This is because she is very realistic in the way she deals with the accusation. She isn’t a super hero who takes everything in her stride, she’s a typical teenage girl who is feeling scared, lonely and betrayed. She has a great character development arc and I can see her potential as a bit of a legend in the YA genre.

As well as an awesome female lead, there is a dashing guard who is kind, funny and extremely attractive. If you’re not convinced by that, he owns a dog. The dog itself is a brilliant character, the connection between the two of them is extremely strong.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.
I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.
My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story

The love story is not the only thing great about the story. This book is filled with fighting and certainly lots of blood. The pace was very fast and I enjoyed the plot twists. It was sad and uplifting. It was also extremely funny in some places, which was nice as books such as Divergent seemed to get a little dry.

I would recommend reading this book to anyone, not just young adults. *cough* because everyone enjoys young adult books and needn’t feel embarrassed *cough* If you email the authors at abimissybooks@gmail.com you can buy a signed copy! I’m giving this book 4 stars and I am so excited for the next in the series.

Erin