abooknation

Book reviews, recommendations and more

REVIEW: The Crown’s Game — August 22, 2017

REVIEW: The Crown’s Game

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Title: The Crown’s Game

Author: Evelyn Skye

Length: 399

Source: Received a review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

 

This book was probably the first hyped YA fantasy book I had read in a WHILE, it was published I around May last year and I avoided it for the longest time. I’ve had some experience being disappointed with over-hyped YA fantasy books, so I tend to come back to them when they’re almost forgotten about.

The synopsis included magic, historical fiction set in Russia and a duel to find the Russia’s next Imperial Enchanter so… I’m in!  So basically there are two competitors Vika and Nikolai (hint: some obvious YA romance transpires between these two) who have been training their whole lives to become the Imperial Enchanter and work alongside the Tsar. They each get a turn to pretty much woo the Tsar with their magic, the winner becomes a valued adviser to him, the loser is sentenced to death.

Being completely honest I wish there was a little more focus on the magical aspect of this story. As mentioned before there’s romance involved between the two competitors, and for the most part that’s what I felt like the focus was on. It was also another case of instalove, and the relationship development between these two characters was not the best, so I couldn’t even follow that aspect. BUT the writing style is something that stood out to me, the writer set a tone from the beginning that was consistent throughout. The story is set in Russia and to celebrate the Prince’s birthday  the two enchanters perform tricks that transform the city, and the imagery really helped to make all the scenes so clear and vivid. And I don’t have the most creative imagination so she’s THAT good.

I was a little disappointed with this book, especially because I didn’t see how the magic performed by the two enchanters would be useful to the Tsar in the future. So I didn’t really see the practical side of this whole competition. At the same time, I’m invested enough to read the sequel and I want to see where the story goes from here, because the ending was a little… interesting.

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REVIEW: Glitter — August 2, 2017

REVIEW: Glitter

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Title: Glitter

Author: Aprilynne Pike

Length: 384

Source: Received a review copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

In all honesty this was a book that I requested 90% because of the cover… but the synopsis was not bad either. Basically this was set in France, where Versailles still lived in the 18th century whereas everywhere else was modern day. The problem with this society was that once you were a part of it, it became very difficult to escape. ESPECIALLY if you were to wed the king of this castle. So our main protagonist comes up with this ingenious plan to sell cosmetics, that had drugs incorporated in them, in the castle, to raise enough funds to aid her escape.

At this point in time I was really looking for a book that wasn’t too dense but also was interesting enough for me to immerse myself. This was a perfect LIGHT read, I read it in about a day or two (which is fast for me!) aspects like the world building were actually really good, considering the setting I didn’t really have high expectations! The characters were well developed, the main character wasn’t the most complex, but also wasn’t the most typical YA female protagonist.

Just reading the synopsis you could tell this wasn’t going to be the most complex story you’ll read but I also found that it tried to do too many genres and so couldn’t actually fulfill even one of them . Although it had aspects that could’ve been developed into much more it limited itself to being a simple story. That’s why I would recommend this as a light read, something to read if you’re probably in a reading slump and looking for a way out!

Review: Stealing Snow — July 24, 2017

Review: Stealing Snow

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Title: Stealing Snow

Author: Danielle Paige

Length: 375

Source: Received a review copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

This was a book that I couldn’t miss during it’s release, there was soooo much hype built around it. I haven’t read the Dorothy Must Die series, but I heard amazing things about that series so when I found this on Netgalley I couldn’t help but request it. I think this is a retelling but honestly I’m not sure whether this really was supposed to be a retelling of Snow White or The Snow Queen. The only Snow White element it had was that whilst Snow was in the mental facility she called the seven pills she had to take dwarves, other than that it leaned MUCH more towards TSQ.

I had two issues with this, the abundance of YA tropes and how distant the world and characters felt. It followed the story of a girl who everyone thinks is crazy, but is just misunderstood and actually destined to rule a kingdom. WHICH I guess would’ve been FINE, if the characters and the world were complex and developed. But this story lacked both of these things. For the most part I felt like even the main character couldn’t care less about what happened to her in this story. Even the ending, had I been more invested I MIGHT’VE felt something for Snow, but even she felt like an outsider in her own story so it left me feeling a bit…meh. The aspect that got me through this book was the writing style, it made going through this book a little easier (it took me around a month to finish this book :/)

I feel like this was a book I could’ve done without, it didn’t really leave me feeling any type of way at all. I just felt so indifferent the entire time I was reading, which is probably why it took me so long to get through it!

July TBR/Wrap-up — July 23, 2017

July TBR/Wrap-up

I haven’t made a TBR post in a while, mostly because I stopped planning and just picked up whatever I wanted to read. The problem with that is I end up reading much less, because I procrastinate picking my next read! So here’s my (very late) TBR:

  • Miss Christie Regrets
  • Stealing Snow

I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about this one, but I really liked the concept (and the cover) so I requested it on Netgalley and received copy. I’m about 85% through and I have mixed feelings about it, I heard it was a retelling of Snow White but honestly felt more like a retelling of The Snow Queen. I’ll stop here before this turns into a full on review, but that should be up on my blog next week!

  • The Crown’s Game

Probably my favourite read of this month, I literally flew through this in about a day. I travelled to Morocco a few days ago and only packed 2 books with me, this and Outlander. Mainly because I have around 90 books on Kindle that I haven’t read, and I wanted to get through those first! I’m rambling again… Although I enjoyed reading it, it had some major problems that I’ll discuss in the review!

  • Rebel of the Sands

I was really looking forward to reading this, all I knew was that it had mystical beasts and magic. But I read the synopsis to familiarise myself with the story, and it reveals too much! I feel like I already know what’s going to happen just from reading the summary.

I know this TBR/Wrap-up is ridiculously late but I wanted to get back into the habit of posting them, because my reading becomes much more organised when I do

REVIEW: RARITY FROM THE HOLLOW — July 9, 2017

REVIEW: RARITY FROM THE HOLLOW


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Title: Rarity from the Hollow

Author: Robert Eggleton

Length: 284

Source: Received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

I’ve read some books with pretty strange concepts, but this honestly has to top that list. I’ll just let the synopsis summarise this story because honestly I couldn’t:

‘Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.’

I’ll start by saying this was a book I couldn’t finish, I got about 40% through and it was just too confusing for me to carry on. It felt like I had to put SO much effort just to read each page. The concept was bizarre but that wasn’t the problem, I personally think it was the world building and character development that were the problem.

If the story has concepts that are difficult for the reader to grasp easily, I feel like usually the character or the setting tend to compensate for that. If I can somewhat relate to the main character, or even just understand them that’s enough for me to finish any book. For me this story just didn’t give me enough to carry on reading through the weirdness, the main character felt a bit distant, and the familial relationships weren’t really developed.

There are talking trees, a creepy alien, and a main character with a mission to save the universe. If reading stories with weird concepts is something you enjoy, this  is definitely out there.

Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.

NOTE: The character mentioned above (Faith) is a victim of sexual abuse. Sexual content is present in this novel.

Update Post! — July 3, 2017

Update Post!

Well, it’s been a while… I was doing well up until the posts I made in advance were all posted and I had to sit down and make new ones. A LOT has happened, but I feel like I’ll just be listing more excuses as to why I was slacking in posting (once again!). So instead I just wanted to make an update post on what I’ve been up to whilst I was gone and (few!) books I’ve read!

All in all I think I read maybe 5/6 books whilst I was off blogging, probably another reason why I didn’t blog much. When I stop reading I feel like I’m out of the book blogging loop. I have no idea what’s been going on, what new releases have come out and what books have been doing really well!

Some of the books I’ve read:

  • Tokyo Ghoulby by Sui Ishida
  • Glitter by Aprilynne Pike
  • Rarity of the Hollow by Robert Eggleton
  • Miss Christie Regrets by Guy Fraser-Sampson

I think this list pretty much highlights how diverse my reads are!

I also decided to start learning Korean. I’ve always had an interest in learning languages but I never follow through with what I started! Spanish and French were the two languages I started self studying, but kind of just forgot about them… I feel like the same is happening with Korean, just after teaching myself how to read it I kind of just felt meh about the whole thing.

I know for the most part this blog post has been everywhere, it’s always hard making a blog post after being out of it for a while, it all feels a little awkward. I’ll be posting reviews starting next week, and on that note I’m currently NOT accepting any more books for review for a little while. When it gets to a point where I have more books that I own that I haven’t read, I’m forcing myself to get through what I’ve accumulated rather let that pile get bigger!

Let me know in the comments what posts you would like to see from this blog, what should be my topics for my next discussion posts?

MG Review: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold. — April 30, 2017

MG Review: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold.

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Title: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold.

Author: Terry Maggert

Length: 238

Source: Received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

I have always enjoyed reading middle grade novels, even if I may not necessarily fall in the age group they’re aimed at! I feel like they don’t tend to contain as many cliché’s as young-adult novels tend to.  After reading the synopsis I thought this was definitely something worth checking out! I’m going to try and review it from the perspective of the target audience.

This story took a little too long to get ‘started’. Had I read this when I 12, I don’t think I would’ve made it past around 40% of the book. I understand the importance of world-building and developing the characters, but at the same time it felt like the beginning dragged on a little too much. That was one of the reasons it took me so long to get through this book despite it being 248 pages long.

The character was your average middle grade protagonist, but nonetheless fun to read about. She had a goal throughout this story, and also acted FAIRLY realistically for the most part of this story. However, for some situations she was put in, I really struggled to believe that a 16/17 year old would react in the way she did.

I’m honestly struggling to write a review for this book, not because I disliked it, but because after I finished reading it nothing really stood out to me. Maybe because I’m comparing my experience of reading this middle grade book to previous one’s I had enjoyed but I just found it a little anticlimactic.

If you’re interested in reading about a book set in Alaska, and have an interest in humpback whales you might want to give this a try. Also if you’re looking for a middle grade book that is a more focused on world-building, I would recommend reading this.

Discussion post: Bad Reviews. — March 26, 2017

Discussion post: Bad Reviews.

This is a sensitive topic amongst the book blogging community, but it’s something most bloggers have to go through when writing a bad review. UNLESS they are lucky enough to never read a book they dislike!

At some point in time we come across a book we didn’t enjoy, I feel like it’s easier to review it when you paid for the book yourself rather than received it for review! Writing these reviews are never enjoyable, but at the same time I feel like as a book blogger it is my duty to inform readers of my opinion. Sometimes people read my reviews, go on to read the book and find they have a completely different experience, which is absolutely normal! We all have different preferences, something I enjoy is not going to necessarily mean the next person would have enjoyed it just as much.

However I do take extra care when writing bad reviews, and I’ve noticed that when I approach it from an objective viewpoint, as someone just critiquing the story it’s much easier. I think it’s because it makes it less personal and a little more technical.

I’ve been on Goodreads and come across a few reviews that look something like this:

OH WOW this book was a disaster, it made me want to RIP MY EYES out!

Here’s the thing, I enjoy reading entertaining reviews just as much as anyone else, but sometimes I feel like people do toooooo much. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I’m not saying my way is the right way to review. But I particularly find reviews like this unhelpful and frankly a little rude. The worst thing about it is some people won’t even say what particular aspect or what it was about the book they didn’t really enjoy. Someone slaved away for months, even years to produce something they were genuinely proud of. The least I can as a reviewer, is point out perhaps what concepts/characters I thought weren’t written well. Or provide constructive criticism, so that the author can perhaps pick up on this and might even agree!

Let me know what you guys think down in the comments! What is your approach to writing reviews for books you didn’t like? By the way I wanted to make some posts that are not book related, e.g. study tips or favourite movies would y’all still be interested in reading these kind of posts?

REVIEW: The Crystal Crux by A.M. Werner — March 19, 2017

REVIEW: The Crystal Crux by A.M. Werner

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Title: The Crystal Crux

Author: A.M Werner

Published: January 11th 2016

Length: 352

Source: I got this copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I haven’t read a high fantasy in a fairly long time so I was really excited to accept this for review! Here’s the synopsis: (taken from Goodreads)

‘Once you get past the Greek warrior Bellerophon and his esoteric-laced crystals, past the menacing black dragon Ophis, past the sinister giant Sinibaldus, past the black-heart Castellan, Rugerius, past the enchanted creatures haunting Eagles Pass and the treacherous Fabbro family ruling Parthenope, you’ll discover that “The Crystal Crux – Betrayal” is a love story, a tale of light and faith in a land of darkness, war and hopelessness.
Pero de Alava has sinned against the powers-that-be. His elevated paranoia has made him indecisive and given life to frequent hallucinations and troubling visions. The supernatural is colliding with reality and the caballero fears he is losing his mind. His plans to wed Anthea Manikos unravel quickly. His best friend, Francis Whitehall, the Griffin, can’t reach him. He accepts no advice from anyone. He curses God because he has seen the prosperity of the wicked and envied them. Will his quest into hell help him right his mind again or will his jealousy drive him to be as unjust as those he despises?
Emperor Henry VI has died. He can no longer protect his pawns. Brother betrays brother, friend betrays friend. As Zor always says, “Bravest blood flows first.” The heart has been struck. It is only DAY ONE and the leaves are falling, snapping off at the stems, missed opportunities drifting away, swirling in the breeze towards the coldness of the grave. So many regrets.
“Every malevolent act you henceforth commit in the name of justice, will only disconnect you from the greater good you are swearing to perform. You will be broken and become the evil thing you loathe.”‘

I think I should preface this review by saying this. If you’re someone who enjoys heavy-world building and historical fiction you will love this book! The majority of it is world building, which was absolutely amazing, because it made me think about how much research went into actually writing about this time so accurately!

This story had characters from a wide range of backgrounds, all battling their own demons and all developing through this story. But it also had some interesting relationships and in my opinion had the perfect amount of romance for a fantasy/historical fiction. I prefer having a relationship that feels more realistic, rather than having love triangles and clichèd romantic scenarios. The relationship between Anthea and Pero De Alva is one I loved reading about and I think it gives this story a sort of relief from all the darkness surrounding these characters.

This was a great fantasy/historical fiction but in all honesty it took me a while to get through, simply because of the intense world building! However the way A.M. Werner developed this complex world and made it feel familiar to the reader is one of the reasons I had to keep reading!

My Bullet Journal! — March 12, 2017

My Bullet Journal!

So this year I decided to start bullet journaling! I’ve always liked the idea, but it looked too high maintenance to be sustainable! But a friend showed me a more simplistic approach and so I decided to give it a try too.

Why?

Why would I bullet journal in the first place? Towards the beginning it felt a little like a waste of time, I’m someone who doesn’t struggle finding ways to procrastinate, so I knew there was a chance I would spent so much time trying to make it look pretty ( emphasis on TRYING)! But for someone like me, actually writing down what I plan to do that day, kind of motivates me, and I know that if I don’t do it I can’t tick it off. I know that is sounds quite ridiculous, the one thing motivating me to complete a task is the fact that I can tick a box when I’m done! But sometimes when I lack motivation, that is literally the only thing that keeps me going, I know if I don’t tick it it’ll have to be passed on to the next day’s list, and I’ll regret it later on!

What I used to do before is literally just grab a random sheet of paper, write down a checklist and just throw it away when I’m done. But that way I couldn’t keep track of my progress/productivity. There are some days where you feel like you’ve achieved so much, but when you look back you realised you actually wasted a lot of time! This journal kind of helped me look back and confront the days where I just felt productive but didn’t actually do anything!

Sample:

I am by no means artistic or creative in any way! But I thought I might show you just what some of the pages look like. WARNING: these pages are really simple, like literally some of them just have titles, lower your expectations for what’s to come!

The pages I’ve included in mine were based on watching 100 million different Youtube videos, finding what suits me, and adding pages that I might find useful. Of course this is not some guideline, so if you choose to make one, it could be personalised to your daily needs!

What is your method of staying organised? Comment down below!