Tag: book review

Blog tour: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Blog tour: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Firstly I’d like to say a huge thank you to The Write Reads for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour. This release has been…

Blog tour: The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Blog tour: The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Hi there, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Megan McCafferty’s The Mall! First things first I’d like to say a huge thank you to the folks over at Wednesday Books for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour. I’ve…

Blog tour: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Blog tour: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Hey everyone! I am SO excited to be taking part in the blog tour for The Ship of Shadows, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to The Write Reads for having me on board. I first read the swashbuckling adventure back in May during Believathon, when I wrote a little review of it, but today I’m diving back in and sharing my deeper thoughts on this nautical novel.

As always with my blog tour posts, I’m going to share a little bit more about The Ship of Shadows with you before I jump into my thoughts, so grab your cutlasses and follow me!

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar cover

Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.

Before I review this book, can we all please just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous this cover is? I went in to Waterstones last week and saw a finished copy in the flesh for the first time and it is SUBLIME. Mad props to Karl James Mountford for designing such a stunning cover.

“You all have such adventurous stories.”

At it’s heart, The Ship of Shadows is a story about stories.

Aleja has always wanted to be an explorer, living for the tales that are told in the local taverns and the books she devours from the university library. She loves stories so much that she uses them to teach herself multiple languages, which is why Captain Elizabeth Quint notices her in the first place – the Ship of Shadows has just lost its linguist, and Aleja is the perfect replacement.

Not only are stories very important to Aleja, but they’re important to the Ship of Shadows itself. It’s powered by magic that is born from the legends and tales that are spread about the ship and its crew, causing new rooms to pop up as the rumours about the legendary ship travel and morph.

Of course, if you’re picking up The Ship of Shadows it’s likely that you’re a reader too, so I’m glad that Maria Kuzniar chose to make her protagonist such a bookworm. It gave me something that made me relate to Aleja, as I don’t relate to her thirst for adventure – I’m a total homebody!

However the gang on the Ship of Shadows made me reconsider that, because this crew of characters is so dynamic that you find yourself desperate to befriend them. My favourite character is unquestionably Frances – a bespectacled pickpocket who is absolutely addicted to cake and other sugary treats – but this is one of the most organically diverse casts I’ve encountered. We have characters from Norway, Sweden, Spain, Africa, London, as well as an LGBTQ+ character and characters with disabilities (because pirates don’t live the safest lives!). If you like reading books that have a very interesting range of characters represented then this is definitely the book for you. I’m not normally a fan of novels which introduce lots of characters very quickly, but Maria Kuzniar makes sure that all of her characters are such individuals that it’s extremely easy to keep track of them all in your mind, which is a huge skill.

I hope that we’re able to join Aleja and the crew on many more adventures in the future. As far as I’m aware nothing has been confirmed regarding a sequel yet, but as I said back in May, this story needs to be continued. I think this could end up being one of my favourite middle grade series of all time, as this is a remarkably strong debut.

I ended up giving in four stars, and the only reason it didn’t get to the five star mark was because I felt as though the ending was a little bit rushed compared to the pace of the first half of the novel. However, I was tempted to bump it up to five stars on my reread, and if I read it again I probably will cave and rate it that little bit higher.






Maria Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world, which inspired her debut novel The Ship of Shadows. Now she lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as she can and bookstagrams at @cosyreads. She is always planning her next adventure.

If you’d like to learn more about Maria Kuzniar or The Ship of Shadows, please visit her website, Twitter, or check the book out on Goodreads.








Once again I’d like to that The Write Reads for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour. The Ship of Shadows has quickly become one of my favourite middle grades, and I can’t wait to see what Aleja and the gang get up to next.

See you next time!

Alyce

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Series review: Summoner by Taran Matharu

Series review: Summoner by Taran Matharu

Hey everyone! This is my first series review, so please bear with me as I figure out the best way to do this. I’m going to share my thoughts on each of the books in the Summoner series – including the prequel, The Outcast –…

Blog tour: What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin

Blog tour: What Unbreakable Looks Like by Kate McLaughlin

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like. First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Meghan from Wednesday Books for reaching out and inviting me to take part in this blog…

Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh

Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh

When The Beautiful was announced, everyone I heard talking about it said it was a duology. Alas, after finishing The Damned I have realised that that is not the case – in fact, it’s rumoured that there are another two books to come in The Beautiful saga.

That might be one of the reasons that I didn’t enjoy this book anywhere near as much as I was hoping to.

The Beautiful was a five star read for me. I thought the marketing was all wrong and that it should have been pushed as a murder mystery rather than as a vampire story – the vampires aren’t explicitly revealed until towards the end of the novel, so if you’re only there for the vampires you’re going to be disappointed – but I thought the murder mystery aspect of the plot was gripping, and I loved Celine and the Court of the Lions (and the various other characters we were introduced to throughout).

Unfortunately, The Damned is the complete opposite.

There just isn’t much plot to the first half of the novel, because we’re so focused on the Court of the Lions and their vampiric ways. One of the main characters (I won’t say who, just in case you haven’t read The Beautiful yet – if not, what are you doing here?!) was turned into a vampire at the end of the first novel, and it feels like an interminable amount of complaining along the lines of, ‘Woe is me! Why am I a vampire? Why didn’t everyone just let me die?!’. I can understand why someone might be feeling that way, but it is painfully repetitive.

I never felt bored during the first book and was picking it up in every spare moment because I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I was struggling to motivate myself to continue reading The Damned.

Things do eventually pick up, but Renée Ahdieh tries to cram too much into this novel. I thought that made sense because I was still assuming it was a duology – of course she’s rushing to get all the threads of the story tied together neatly! – but after I’d finished reading and I realised that that wasn’t the case I just couldn’t understand why the story was told in this way. All of the action happens in the last 10% of the novel which makes the first 90% a slog because nothing is really happening, but then when everything kicks off it isn’t satisfying at all because it’s over as soon as it starts.

One of the most frustrating aspects is the rapid fire visits to the Sylvan Wyld and the Sylvan Vale. Ahdieh has crafted an intriguing paranormal world of mirrors and portals, but the time she spends there is over almost before it has begun. I am glad that there are going to be more books in the series because I’m hoping we’ll be able to explore these locations more: when I was still under the impression that it was a duology it all seemed a bit pointless, because they are described so vibrantly and the characters leave them almost immediately to head back to New Orleans.

Meanwhile, there are two characters in this book who should have been utilised far more effectively, but they’re treated as an afterthought. When you’ve got two antagonists and the reader finds themselves regularly forgetting that either of them exist? There is something horribly wrong there.

If I’d been expecting a straight up paranormal romance I would have been satisfied, because the relationship between our two main characters is the main focus (to the detriment of every other aspect of the plot). I was wholly satisfied with the love story – although I’m not sure why Ahdieh felt the need to try to shove in the world’s least convincing love triangle – and that’s the main reason that my rating of The Damned ended up sitting at 3 stars.

I was disappointed with the main plot, but I was invested in the characters and I did appreciate the amount of development that they all went through between books one and two. The Court of the Lions are fleshed out far more than they were in book one – I couldn’t even remember Hortense or Madeleine being mentioned before, but I did read The Beautiful almost a year ago – and I really enjoyed learning more about Arjun and Jae, who are two of the strongest members of the Court.

There is still a lot of potential here, so I will be continuing on with the later books in The Beautiful saga as and when they are released. I just wish I’d known it was going to be a lengthier series when it was first announced, because it might have softened my disappointment while reading The Damned!

I hope you enjoyed my review of The Damned. Have you read The Beautiful yet, and if so what did you think?

Alyce

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Blog tour: Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race

Blog tour: Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race

Hey everyone, and welcome to my stop on the Midnight’s Twins blog tour! A huge thank you to Faye Rogers for organising this tour and letting me take part. If you’ve been to one of my blog tour posts in the past you’ll know I…

Rapid Reviews #5: The 2020 edition

Rapid Reviews #5: The 2020 edition

Hey everyone, and welcome to another installment of Rapid Reviews! I’ve been making a valiant effort to keep on top of reading new releases this year, so here are reviews of five books published in 2020 so far. I’ve gotten these from a mix of…

Blog tour: Again Again by E. Lockhart

Blog tour: Again Again by E. Lockhart

Hey everyone! I am so excited to be welcoming you to the blog today for my stop on the Again Again blog tour. This is actually the first E. Lockhart book I’ve ever finished – I know, why have I been sleeping on her?! – and I was pretty blown away by how creative this novel is.

I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Again Again a bit further down, but first I’ll share some more information about the book itself in case you’re yet to hear about this new release.

In this novel full of surprises from the New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart ups the ante with an inventive and romantic story about human connection, forgiveness, self discovery and possibility.

When Adelaide Buchwald’s younger brother succumbs to a drug overdose, she saves his life. In the aftermath, looking for distraction, she becomes a stylish, bright charmer who blows off school and falls madly in love – even though her heart is shattered.

Adelaide is catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times while fully confronting her brother, their history, and her own strength.

A raw and funny story that will surprise you over and over, Adelaide is an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.

When I first heard people talking about Again Again, it sounded like it was going to be a Sliding Doors-esque YA novel with some Groundhog Day vibes, and my interested was piqued. I was hoping to discover something similar to Justin A. Reynold’s Opposite of Always, which was one of my favourite releases of last year, so it’s safe to say that my expectations were high.

The multiverses come into play very quickly: Adelaide is walking five dogs at the dog run in the local park where she meets Jack. This encounter plays out in a few different ways, jumping back to a specific point and running slightly differently each time. In one world Adelaide accidentally offends Jack, cutting their friendship extremely short, while in another they begin falling in love as soon as they meet.

I was reading an eARC of this book via NetGalley, and to start with I did think it was a formatting issue because it happens so suddenly. All of a sudden the characters are repeating themselves and you’ve got a horrible case of deja vu, before you realise ‘ohh, that’s the whole point!’. I don’t know how I expected the multiverses to play out – possibly in alternate chapters, jumping from one sequence of events to another – but this really did pull me up short, and I had question marks popping up around my head for the first few occurrences. I’m not sure if this is the case in the physical copy, but I’m not sure I read this one in the easiest format!

That being said, once I got my head around the abrupt nature of the multiverses I found myself very absorbed in this story. Because the timeline keeps changing and the previous events are linking up with the current events, you have to concentrate very hard: there’s no chance to put your brain on autopilot and speed read, because you need to try and work out ‘wait, is this the version of Jack and Adelaide who kissed in the bathroom or went and hung out on the hammock?!’. I’m still not completely sure I’ve managed to unravel it all perfectly, but it was a lot of fun to think you were with a Jack and Adelaide who had one version of their history only for them to reference something else which had played out earlier on.

This is a very short story, coming it at under 300 pages, but the themes that it tackles are really powerful. Adelaide’s brother Toby has recently come out of rehab, having been addicted to drugs since he was fourteen. His addiction has a huge impact on who Adelaide is as a person, and this is played with cleverly by exploring a few multiverses surrounding Toby, too. The portrayal of his addiction is painfully realistic, and shows the impact it has on the entire family. There’s also an in-depth exploration of first love and loss and the effect that both of those can have.

This is a book which makes you wonder ‘What if?’. With such simple alterations sparking huge changes in the events which occur, this is the butterfly effect in action, and although it can be a bit startling at first it is very cleverly written. I would absolutely love to see Again Again get the adaptation treatment, because I think this would be extremely effective on the screen: it would be far easier to keep track of everything, that’s for sure!

It’s hard to rate this book after a first read, because I think this is a title which I’d get a lot out of rereading, but I eventually settled on giving it 4 stars (rounded up from 3.5!). There are some aspects which I really wanted E. Lockhart to explore more thoroughly, only for that multiverse to be dropped and for the story to shoot off in another direction, but considering the limitations of the written word it’s impressive that she’s managed to convey a story like this so wonderfully and with the minimum possible amount of confusion.

If you’d like to learn more about Again Again, check it out on Goodreads. Alternatively, if you’d like to order a copy you’re in luck: it’s release day today! Again Again is available through both Amazon and Hive.



E. Lockhart is the author of many novels including the bestselling We Were Liars, a New York Times bestseller, and Genuine Fraud; also The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel; Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, and the Ruby Oliver quartet: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Life Boyfriends. She co-authored How to Be Bad with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski. Her latest book is Again Again.

You can find more information about E. Lockhart on her website and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.



Thank you for checking out my stop on the Again Again blog tour! I’d like to say a huge thank you to Faye for organising this blog tour and having me along – it’s such a huge honour to get to work with an author like E. Lockhart. Wow.

See you soon!

Alyce

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Blog tour: The Lizard by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart

Blog tour: The Lizard by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart

Hey everyone, and welcome to my stop on The Lizard blog tour! I’m honoured to be teaming up with Muswell Press once again to celebrate the release of a truly gripping crime debut. As always, I’m going to tell you a little more about The…