Book Review: Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Title: Reign of the Fallen
Series: Reign of the Fallen #1
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Publisher: Razorbill
Date: January 23rd, 2018
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

Review:

If I’d have to choose only one word to describe Reign of the Fallen, I’d choose the word unique.
In my life, I’ve read many books (almost 500), but I’ve never read anything similar to this story.

Reign of the Fallen is a novel set in a world where people after their death can come alive, with the help of people who’s job is to take them out of the Deadland into their real world.
As you can imagine, most people that rule this world have already died many times.
However cool that might sound, there is one catch: if a dead person stays “alive” for too long, there’s a chance for her to become a Shadow, which is basically some sort of evil zombie that eats and kills everything and everyone.
So therefore, after some time, a person who is Undead (that’s the word for a person who was brought back to life) should be killed and then brought back to life again.
As you can imagine, the circle goes on and on and on…

As I already stated, reading Reign of the Fallen was a pleasant surprise since I have never read anything like that.
It took me some time to figure out how this world really works, but I thing that the world building was done great and I really enjoyed all the elements of it (also, I couldn’t help but think how this world must smell really bad!).

The story follows Sparrow who is the best in bringing Dead people back to life. She works for the king and she lives and breathes her job. She wouldn’t know who she’d be without it.

Sparrow was an interesting character, to say the least. She made some decisions that really left me confused, but I have to stress out that after everything that has happened to her, she was very lost and confused herself.
She was pretty selfish and self centered, and even though that is a turn off in a way, it is also a very realistic thing, because it is in human nature to centre the world around your own self.

There was one situation in the book that I just have to mention.
We got to see how a character got herself addicted to drugs, and how painful it was to take herself off it, and I have never saw anything similar in ya fantasy.
It was kind of silly, to be honest, but in the same time, I welcome it.

I also have to emphasize that this novel has a great diversity representation.

When I look at Reign of the Fallen as a whole, I honestly think it would have been a better book if it was an adult fantasy novel.

Overall, I am glad I gave this book a chance because it was like a breathe of fresh air, but when I look at the whole picture, it was a solid read.
I would still recommend it, though!

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Book Review: Batman Nightwalker by Marie Lu (Blog Tour) @prhinternational #partner

I am so happy to be today’s host in Batman Nightwalker blog Tour.
I want to say thank you to Amanda Holman for giving me this opportunity, and to Penguin Random House for sending me a free copy of the book.

Blurb:

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Review:

Like most of my generation, I grew up with Batman movies and cartoons. I loved watching them even when I was too little to understand them, and his partner Robin was my first love.

I always knew Bruce Wayne had a great tragedy in his life, saw his parents murder when he was a child, but I have to admit, never in my life have I wondered how he was like when he wasa  teenager.
Thanks to Marie Lu, I got a glimpse of his adolescent life.

Now I know he was smart, well educated, builted his first laptop and had an interesting group of friends. He was also brave and always fought for justice (who’d say, right?).

Batman Nightwalker was a perfect entertaiment. I read my copy during Christmas and it was the last book I read in 2017. I am so happy to say I finished a year with a great book in my hands.

I liked almost everything about it. I had fun reading scenes with Bruce and his friends, I enjoyed exploring Gotham city, but most of all, I liked scenes with a mysterious girl, Madaleine Wallace, who was our main villain.

I have to say that Madaleine was one of the best villains I came across lately (read “for the longest time”), and that includes not only books, but movies and tv shows too.

I was satisfied with the whole story, including the very end of the book too, even though I guessed one part of the book, the one that should have been a shocking moment (at least I think so).

Overall, I had a blast reading Batman Nightwalker, and a big reason  for that is Marie Lu’s compelling writing.

I would recommend this book to everyone who likes superhero stories and to all Batman fans.

 

 

Book Review: The Fate of Kings by Mark Stibbe & G. P. Taylor

I am so happy to be today’s host in The Fate of Kings blog Tour.
I want to say thank you to Rhoda Hardie for giving me this opportunity.

About the book:

1793. As the Terror begins to cast a great shadow over France, Thomas Pryce, the new Vicar of Deal, crosses the Channel to find the missing parents of his beautiful French wife. Facing grave dangers, he makes his way to Brittany where he not only discovers the fate of his in-laws but also uncovers a plot which threatens to topple the British monarchy. Fighting against a sinister secret society in a race against time, Pryce battles to thwart the plans of a Parisian spymaster and his agents in London. The Fate of Kings is the first in a series of gripping spy thrillers that will engross readers of C.J. Sansom, Dan Brown, as well as the many avid watchers of Poldark and Grantchester. In the first years of the British Secret Service, Thomas Pryce truly is the original James Bond.

My Review:

Going into The Fate of Kings I expected adventure and even more so, a political novel.
Did I get what I expected?
Yeah, I can say so. But I can also say that even though I got what I expected, this book was also different from what I’ve expected in a way.

First of all, let me clarify that this book is piece of Christian fiction. I knew it, and I like reading Christian fiction once in a while, but I always like to warn people about that because I know some readers just don’t feel comfortable reading word-to-word praying and phrases like “God will help us, God will be with me.”
When it comes to Christian fiction, I’d say The Fate of Kings is on a heavier side.

So… this is where comes one thing that I didn’t like about the blurb for this book. Thomas Pryce, our main character, is not only compared to James Bond, but said to be the original James Bond.
I think it is misleading because we all know what  James Bond is all about, and yeah, you could say Thomas has some similarities with Bond, but only he is too… chaste. And that isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, I just wouldn’t compare him to James Bond.

The writing style is interesting. You can tell from the way the sentences were built that this novel comes from writers with years of experience in writing.
Then again, I got a feeling that there were too much tells for my taste. I’d prefer more shows, to be honest.
Also, the writing style was a bit too descriptive for my taste.

I know it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book, but that is not the truth. I think this book is pretty adventurous and I overall enjoyed the novel, I just had to arm myself with patience until I got used to everything that was different from my expectations.

Who would I recommend this book to?
To historical fiction readers but also to fans of political stories.
Would I recommend it to James Bond fans?
Actually I would, because I think they would like it, but would tell them not to expect lots of booze and women because Thomas Pryce is different from James Bond we all know from the movies.

About the authors:

G.P. Taylor

(born 1958 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire), pen-name G. P. Taylor, is the author of the best-selling novels Shadowmancer, Wormwood and Tersias. Before taking up writing full-time, he was an Anglican vicar in the village of Cloughton, North Yorkshire.
His works reflect his faith, carrying Christian messages like The Chronicles of Narnia of C.S. Lewis. He began to write his works to counter the increasing number of works, such as Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that he believed were encouraging children to investigate the occult. His works have also garnered some controversy however, because whilst Taylor has claimed to be “an authority on Wicca and paganism”, his books have been considered offensive by some neopagans for describing them as being tricked by the Devil.

Mark Stibbe doesn’t have his biography on Goodreads nor on Amazon.

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Book Review: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister (Blog Tour)

I am so honoured to take part in this blog tour.
Doe to some private reasons I wasn’t able to post my review on Saturday when it was my turn to be the host. I am taking this opportunity to apologize to everyone involved.

I really enjoyed reading this book (and talking about it with my colleagues), so I hope that Anything You Do Say will be a huge success.

I’d like to thank Jenny Platt from Penguin Random House UK, for giving me this opportunity.

About the book:

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor.

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

My Review:

So… Do you know that case when you read a book and you want to talk about it with everyone around you, even though they didn’t read it nor they’re familiar with the story? And you just want to question them all the time “What would you do?”

That is what happened to me with this book, and I dare to say it will happen’ to most of the readers. I just couldn’t help it! I wanted to know what would my colleagues do if they were in Joanna’s shoes. It got so bad, I started guessing what each colleague would choose before they even had a say (I guess I’m weird like that).

One good thing came out of that: many of them want to read this book now (so my mission is completed! Gillian McAllister, you can now just sit and wait for the croatian translation (hopefully, fingers crossed!)).

 

So… what is this book about?
It is about a woman who’s story showed us how one single impulse decision can have a power to change lives complitely.

Joanna, our protagonist, is a woman who decided to have a night out with her friend. While they were in a bar, one guy asked them to pose for a selfie. They agreed, but after that the guy just wouldn’t let them be. He was way too pushy and he even sexualy assaulted Joanna, by rubbing his dick onto her, all while he had his clothes on (maybe I’m not describing all the details right, but it was some similar scenario if not the same).
After a while, when it was time to go home, Joanna parted ways with her friend and, alone in the dark, she had heard footsteps behind her. They were loud, coming after her, and she had an impulse, defensive reaction and as the guy touched her, she pushed him down the stairs, and he fell with his face down in a puddle.

What should she do now? Call 999 and take the blame, or just walk away, as it never happened?

From that moment, the story parted into two stories, Reveal and Conceal, that give you a see what happened with each decision.

I feel like there is so many ways you can actually read this book. You can read it as usual, parallelly follow each story, or you can read one story, then the other (or just one).

I was thrilled by both of them, but I have to admit that Conceal grabbed more of my attention. It was more intense and it kept me on the edge of my sit. One reason for that is McAllister’s writing style, because she did a great job picturing Joanna’s paranoia and her many trains of thought.

Reveal was also very good, even though it was passive at times. What I mean is, sometimes I just read the story and watched what will happen’ to Joanna, not being too engaged in the story.
However, there were some moments when I was pretty nervous.

What I liked the most in both of these stories is how well we got to see what was going on in Joanna’s head. All the chaos, every little decision after the big one that chose her path, had an impact on her and we got to see how she was changing every day, but also how her behaviour and everything that was going on played a role in lives of people aroud her, and how they were changing too.

This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year and I highly recommend it.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one!

I only wish Anything You Do Say was already out so we could disccuss it properly, because I’d really like to know what you’d choose if you were in Joanna’s place: to call 999 or to walk away?

Follow the tour:

Book Review: Spring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin (Blog Tour)

I am so happy to be today’s host in Spring at Blueberry Bay blog Tour.
I want to say thank you to Holly Martin for giving me this opportunity.

Blurb:

Welcome to beautiful Hope Island where the sea sparkles, the daffodils are blooming and a blossoming romance is just around the corner…

Bella has always had a sunny outlook and caring nature, despite recently falling on hard times. When she finds a handsome homeless man on her doorstep, her kind heart tells her she must help him. So, she invites Isaac into her cottage and into her life in ways she could never have imagined…

But Isaac is not what he seems. He’s keeping a huge secret from Bella, yet he never expected to fall for this open, generous and charming woman.

Bella can’t ignore the chemistry between her and Isaac, but she’s had her trust badly broken in her past. Will she run when she learns the truth about Isaac, or will he be the one man who can help Bella believe in love again?

A gorgeously romantic and heartwarming story to completely lose yourself in. Perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Jane Costello and Miranda Dickinson.

Review:

Are you looking for something that will cure your boredom and make you smile?
Here, take one of Holly Martin’s books!
This one is the perfect choice, if you ask me!

Holly’s books tend to contain the same characteristics: The writing style is always querky, esay to read and fun, the places she describes are always so beautiful you can’t help but want to visit them, her characters are likeable, the romance is almost touchable and rooting for the two to get together is unavoidable, and they always put a smile on reader’s face. Every time.
This one was no exception.

Spring at Blueberry Bay was a quick, warm and fluffy read that brought some fun to my lately over-scheduled life.

It follows Bella who is a charity event fundraiser, and Isaac who runs an Umbrella company, the charity company Bella wants to work for.
After acting a role of a homeless guy and introducing himself with a fake name, Isaac falls for Bella and now telling her the true about his identity could mean the lost of her trust.
Bella was hurt before and finding a way to trust someone who lied to her can be pretty challenging.

I really, really, really liked this book. I enjoyed every single page.
I loved the place – Blueberry Bay, I loved the people, I even  liked the dogs (I mean, I ALWAYS like the dogs)!

And there is also one more thing I liked above all – how the importance of the family and people we surround ourself with is explored.
I enjoyed reading scenes about Bella’s relationship with her cousins that she looked at as brother and sister, because they were there for her and gave her home when she didn’t have her own family.

If you’re looking for a book full of love, warmth, and affection, Spring at Blueberry Bay is the one you’re looking for.
I highly, highly recommend this one to romance lovers out there.

About the Author:

Holly has been writing for six years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. Holly lives in Bedfordshire.

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Book Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Title: Allegedly
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date: January 24th, 2017
Pages: 400
Format: ebook
Source: Purchased

 

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster in this gritty, twisty, and haunting debut by Tiffany D. Jackson about a girl convicted of murder seeking the truth while surviving life in a group home.

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it?

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

Review:

Only few books can shake me. Allegedly is one of them.

After I finished this compelling novel, I needed some time to process everything that was going on in the book, as well as calm myself so I could understand my feelings.

Reading this, you probably think I’m exaggerating.
If I was you, I’d probably think the same.
But I am telling the truth. Sometimes we don’t know how we’re going to react to a certain book, and sometimes our reactions can surprise us.

Going into this story, I knew it would be difficult for me. I was even aware how disturbing it was.
You probably hear about Allegedly, as one of novels written in own voices, one that was praised in “reading diversity” movement (if that’s a movement, I’m not 100% sure), the book that is important to read.

First of all, I agree with the statement how it is important for this book to be read, and for author’s voice to be heard.
This is one hugely important, disturbing book that represents not only people of color, but minority that we don’t get to read often about – teenagers in group home.

Honestly, I am afraid how I’m going to sound when I say this, but I will say it anyway: this novel reminded me how happy my life is. When I reflect and compare it to lives like ones I read about in this novel, to teenagers who yes, committed crimes during their lives, but are still alive and have to live with invisible “Scarlet letter” that follows them every where they go, without support of their families, in poverty and with someone else deciding about everything in their life, I understand how privileged I actually am.
And once again, I used the word I am really not a fan of, but there is no other word to say it better.

The story is told in first person, following Mary’s POV.
Beside Mary’s narration (and I have to state that Mary is one of the best narrators I had a pleasure to read about), there are bunch of newspaper articles, police interviews, excerpts from doctor’s papers and other similar stuff.

Reading Allegedly was thought provoking and emotional experience.
It definitely wasn’t easy.
Some scenes were violent and disturbing, some were harder to understand, some were extremely sad, but what hit me the most was how everyone underestimated Mary all the time.

I rooted for her, even though she never stated if she did it, if she killed the baby. She said she did, allegedly.
But yet, you as a reader don’t believe she would do such a thing. She does not seem like that kind of person.

The writing style is amazing, and I simply can not believe this is a debut novel.

One more thing I’d like to emphasize is the role of the State (here I mean criminal justice system and state foster care).
Mary’s (and other girls’) destiny depended so much on those two, that it feels like the State has it’s own personality.

There is one more thing we need to discuss: the last chapter.
I tried and tried to decide whether I like how this story ended.
At fist I was shocked, but resolved that I liked it.
Now, after some thinking, I wish the story ended differently.
Why?
Because, even though I understand why the writer chose to end the story the way she did, I can’t help but feel that some messages delivered through the story were (partly) erased with that conclusion.

Fun fact: When doing my research, I found out that this book was inspired by true event that happened in 2012, when 10 years old girl was charged with manslaughter of a three month old baby.

Book Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: January 31st, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Source: Purchased

 

Synopsis (from Amazon):

An irresistible story from Kasie West that explores the timeless question What do you do when you fall for the person you least expect?

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Review:

If you know me, you know Kasie West is my contemporary queen.
I simply adore her books, and I always feature them in my WoW posts, because I am always eagerly anticipating her new releases.

Since I loved every single book she wrote, I don’t think I have to underline that my expectations for By Your Side were high as Empire State Building (and yes, I am copying that group/band Fun here).

I could blame my level of expectations for the fact that this was my least favorite book written by Kasie West I read so far (I still have to read her paranormal series).
I could, but I won’t, because, truth be told, By Your Side is just a solid contemporary story that explores mental illness.
When I say solid, I mean good solid.
You see, this book is good, but it isn’t special in any way, nor will it stay with me long (I mean, it will because I know it was written by West, but if it was written by some author I read for the first time, it’d probably end up in my “to-be-donated pile).

The story talks about Autumn who finds herself locked in a library for the whole weekend.
What would be a terrible experience turns out to be a bit easier event because she was not alone. Dax, a mysterious guy who goes to school with her, is there with her.
As they spend time together, they get to know each other better and become closer.

First of all, we bookworms would be happy as hell if we got to spend weekend locked in library (okay, maybe we wouldn’t be THAT happy, but still we wouldn’t mind because we love books).
Here, there is a totally different story, because Autumn is not a reader, so in my opinion, those two could have ended up being locked in the wood storage or steal depository, the story would be the same.

Second, what kind of library doesn’t have a landline??

Third, I don’t mind love triangles, but please, if you decide to put one of guys into coma and make him a part of love triangle, please give me a chance to meet him and potentially fall in love with him before you doom his destiny.
Therefore, I would prefer if this book had two more chapters in which we’d get to know Autumn, Jeff and their friends before the whole library thing.

The best part of this novel is West’s writing style. She is always amazing when telling the story, and this one was no exception.

I also liked was how anxiety was presented in this novel. From my own experience, it was believable.
Then again, I saw some reviewers saying it wasn’t presented properly, so I guess it depends on one’s experience and own observing.
I guess everyone handles anxiety in his own way, so interpretations can be different.

What turned me off from the story was how most of the characters were selfish and self-centered.
From Autumn’s friends who didn’t even notice her missing, to Autumn herself.
I get that she was anxious, but she was also selfish.
Jeff’s best friend (whose name I forgot) was also jealous for no reason other but because he was self centred.

All in all, By Your Side is a good book to pick up when you need a light read that will entertain you, but don’t expect too much from it.