31 May 2015

The Brotherhood Of Piaxia - Michael Drakich

Years have passed since the overthrow of the monarchy by the Brotherhood of Warlocks and they rule Piaxia in peaceful accord. But now forces are at work to disrupt this rule from outside the Brotherhood as well as within! Follow Tarlok, Savan and Tessia as their paths intertwine, with the Brotherhood in pursuit and the powerful merchant’s guild manipulating the populace for their own end.

This is a fantasy epic on a large scale, comparable to the likes of Trudi Canavan and David Gemmell, where war and magic blends perfectly together. Sometimes it is even remniscent of Game of Thrones, in that there are so many characters and threads on the plot. Sometimes this can be confusing, but this book does not let that happen for long.

The story starts fairly slowly, building up each character and their backstory whilst also getting important aspects of the plot in place. Soon, though, the story gains momentum, with the magic really starting to come into play.

There is some really great storytelling here, with large battles and politics that interest you instead of bore you. I especially liked the complex allegiance of all of the characters and cities in Piaxia, as there is so much more to it than I originally thought. I loved the subterfuge and the amount of confusion, making it seems all the more real to me. There were some really clever parts that delighted me when I thought all was lost.  One particular plot point was a little bit obvious to me, but nevertheless I was very pleased to finally find out that my hunch was correct.

The characters were really where the book came a little bit unstuck. Although I liked and understood all of the protagonists, and thought their growth was excellent, I didn't truly feel much of a connection to them. If some had died, I wonder if I would have cared. I certainly didn't when other characters died who seemed quite important. Developing this would have definitely given more impact to certain plot elements. However, it wasn't horrendously important to me, as I enjoyed the book all the same.

I am pleased to say that there is a book after this one, named Demon Stones (which I have already reviewed), which is based in this same world, some years into the future. While that book was very good and rather riveting, I honestly feel that this one was better.


The Brotherhood of Piaxia on Goodreads

27 May 2015

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff

1145519Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

I like to read books which I know will be/ have been made into films, so when I found this book on a boot sale, I snapped it up. Film books are always good for a read, especially when I haven’t seen the film yet, as it was with this one.

I honestly am not sure what to make of this book though, and so really don’t know why it was made into a film. If I am being truthful (which I am, because this is a review and there would be no point to me not being truthful), I thought it was a little bit boring. I had heard that the book was about a futuristic UK trapped in a war, and yet this book was full of teenagers doing not much. Yes, there was a war on, but it didn’t touch the characters in the way that perhaps it should have. They were far too sheltered, far too free from the fighting, like they were living in a dreamland and the war was too far away, when in reality, it was on their doorstep. Now, I have to say that I am too young to have lived in the middle of a war zone, so I have no idea how it would feel, but I think even then I would feel more scared and alone than the main character, Daisy, did.

Another boring aspect was that I don’t think that characters were really used to their full potential. Daisy was a bit of nothing character, and sometimes her thoughts are just plain tedious to read through. I don’t think I cared about her at all. The two boys who had interesting psychic abilities were left in the middle of the book, not to appear again until the end. Those abilities could have been utilised amazingly, but instead they were not used at all.

There was so much potential in this book, with the war, the psychic boys, the forbidden romance (which I couldn’t really get a handle on, it was just... wrong, to me). All of it went completely unaddressed, with no complications coming from any of it apart from being split from each-other, not having much to eat and witnessing a couple of horrible wartime things.

OK, it wasn’t all bad. You were completely and utterly in Daisy’s shoes, which meant that the imagery was perfect. You could literally see and feel as she did. It showed the relationships of the characters really well, so we understood how Daisy felt about Piper and the boys. It was subtle, not over the top at all.

This book was not as good as the hype led me to believe. It is definitely for New Adult readers who like relationship-driven plots and family saga. I, however, found it lacking in plot as not much action took place, and I really didn’t bond with the protagonist. The first half really didn’t capture my attention and the ending was slow, with the only real interest happening about two thirds through the book. Saying all of this, it won’t put me off watching the film at some point. I can imagine that things might have been done to keep up the pace.


25 May 2015

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green

11870085Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Having first seen the film of this book, I have to say that I am very impressed with the way that there theme and the characters were dealt with. The filming was gorgeous, the casting was very good, and all in all it was an enjoyable film. Therefore, my feelings about this book may be slightly marred by the film, which honestly had me doing an Alice and creating a pool of tears in my room.

This is a great book. It is wonderfully realistic, idealistic and yet completely brutal, because it does that one thing that many people are afraid to do; it tells the absolute truth. Well, in fact, it is the character, Hazel, that tells us the truth, in a very honest, open way that probably scares people.

So this is a story about cancer. A funny, sad, romantic, odd and stunning story of life, death, love and what might happen after. You can learn so much from this book, and take away so many sentiments you never knew you wanted to think about. This books surprises you, horrifies you and beguiles you in equal measure, from the lyrical, poignant wording to the inevitable ending.

Amazingly, the film has reflected all these things and more. While some things have been changed, the identity of the story stays the same. The only difference, I feel, is that Hazel is actually a lot funnier in the book, perhaps because we know precisely what she is thinking and feeling.

This is a short book, an easy read, but not actually a young adult, as perhaps some might suggest. Instead, it should be described as a New Adult book, for ages above 16, I would say. It deals with some really heavy content that younger children may find difficult to deal with.

Great read, but actually I think I prefer the film simply based on the fact I had more feels, and in the book I knew what was going to happen!

4.5 / 5

The Fault In Our Stars on Goodreads

23 May 2015

Film Mini Review: The Fault In Our Stars

Two teens fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group.

The Good:

The actors were amazing. Truly. Shailene Woodley makes a wonderful, cynical Hazel. She was very tactfully played and we felt we truly understood her feelings and why she acts the way she does.

Augustus Waters. Is there any person more wonderful? The casting here is spot on as Ansel Englert plays the role beautifully. He puts so much joy and vivacity into the. Every teen should find themselves falling for him.

Poignant, with very beautiful words that make you strongly feel the characters. Enough to make you cry certainly.

Unashamedly realistic in terms of the conversation that people of this age actually have, and every day life.

I've never had cancer, but now I think I know how these two feel. Even the trailer (below) has severe feels.

The Bad:

The ending! No spoilers though. My heart was broken into three billion pieces.


I don't have a bad word to say about this film. Great. Something that everyone should watch, apart from people who don't like experiencing emotion.

The Fault In Our Stars on IMDB

21 May 2015

Maniai: The Girl and the Blood Slide - George Saoulidis

What If There’s a Pattern to the Madness?

More and more people are reported being obsessed with unusual tasks and tested positive for rabies. But when an investigator finds a pattern to the madness and tries to tell people, will anyone listen?

Do you want to know what’s next for the inexperienced investigator? Do you wanna meet the crazies? Then read this thrilling patchwork of the weirdest bio-scare ever encountered.

To start, I need to tell you that I do not usually pick up novellas unless I have already read part of the series. I also don't pick up mystery titles, and yet this one intrigued me. Under the genres of the book were Greek mythology and sci-fi, and I thought 'wow, I wonder what those two look like when they're all mixed up'. To be frank. I was disappointed.

I'll start with the good. The two main characters were likeable and believable, even if I can't actually remember their names. They didn't get built up on yet, but I noticed a small amount of chemistry that no doubt will end up being used to its full potential later in the series. The others? Well, you don't really get much more than snippets of the other characters.

It is a good, intriguing story, and by the end i would say most people would be completely hooked. The story builds for a long time, and nearing the end some rather exciting things happen, so it was such as shame for the very end to be a let down.

This novella is clearly the first in a series, and therefore there is a fair bit of build up, but being completely honest here, the things that grabbed my attention in the blurb didn't make an appearance at all in my opinion. No mythology, no sci-fi, just a mystery that actually doesn't get solved at all.

This book ends with the story in mid-swing, leaving questions I would rather have been answered. Perhaps if this novella was wrapped up a bit more neatly I'd have read the next case file, but as it is, I don't think I will be taking this nay further. Great for adults who like a good mystery, but at the moment, there's not much more to it.


The Girl and the Blood Slide on Goodreads

Thanks to Mythography Studios and George Saoulidis for the e-book - this has not affected my judgement.

19 May 2015

Film Mini Review: We're the Millers

A drug dealer creates a fake family from a group of people he kind-of knows in order to smuggle a truck-load (literally) of cannabis into America.

The Good:
  • Laugh out loud funny. I am not over-dramatising this, unlike most other reviews of kind of funny films.
  • No awkwardness or extremeness. I'm looking at you, Bridesmaids. Awkward seems to have gotten really popular these days in comedies and now it's all anyone is doing. I don't find that funny, I find it unbearable.
  • Great charcterisation of each one of the main four. I honestly loved how each one had a few facets.
  • Good cast, but we all love Kenny. Is there anything Will Poulter can't do?
  • Some very amusing situations. Very.
  • Kind of heartfelt in an odd way, and also appears to have a moral compass. it doesn't point completely north, but it's nearly there.
The Bad:
  • Some may not like the swearing. There's a ton of it.
  • There are a lot of unsavoury subjects here: drugs, smuggling, nudity (well, ish), stripping, violence.

To be honest. I loved this film. It's a great one for a night in with friends and is definitely only suitable for adults. I wouldn't want to watch it with my parents in the room, either. Very funny and great for some lighthearted fun that you take with a pinch of salt.

We're the Millers on IMDB

By the look of IMDB, there's going to be a second one. I am a little bit excited!


18 May 2015

Film Mini Review: Insurgent

The second film in the Divergent trilogy (or is that quadrilogy? I can't keep up now) is pretty cool, I have to say, and the effects are stunning.

So Tris and Four (and the rest) have safely gotten out of the city and away from those awful factions that basically let you die if you don't fit in. And now they're wandering around aimlessly looking for a place to be safe. Luckily, there's a faction for that. Oh, my mistake, there are two.

The Good:

  • Shailene Woodley shines here as she gets to flex those acting muscles, also, we get to check out Ansel Elgort, Jai Courtney and Theo James again... yummy.
  • Loads of action to keep you on your toes and it all looked amazing
  • Well thought out concepts (some of which weren't in the book, apparently)
  • They actually got me! For a moment I was shocked and confused! Unexpected events, yay!
  • Loved the way you were kept guessing about the allegiance of a few of the characters and their motives
  • Great visuals, especially when Tris is inside her own little world again.

The Bad:

  • I think Tris was lost here as a character. It was like she just wasn't her any more. Ok, so some pretty major things happened to her and no doubt that changes a person, but it was like watching Mockingjay Part 1 Katniss all over again!
  • I also couldn't help but compare Ansel to The Fault in our Stars. Caleb is just such a boring ass in this film; a completely different person. However, as a result I completely rate him as an actor.
  • According to other sources (since I actually haven't read this one), the film leaves a fair bit out that the book has in it, and the concepts are different, slightly. However, as films go, it was good!


A good little film which packs plenty of punch. Perfect for teens and fans of action movies where the girls wear practically nothing. A great sequel in my opinion. It'll be interesting to see if that opinion changes once I've read the book.

I have a feeling that the next film will be great. Now off I go to read the books. I need to know what really happens and I MUST know how it ends this instant. I have heard disturbing things, but I WILL reserve judgement. No spoilers please!

Insurgent on IMDB.


16 May 2015

Review: Marina - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

"We all have a secret buried under lock and key in the attic of our soul. This is mine."

In May 1980, fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in Barcelona. For seven days and seven nights no one knows his whereabouts...

His story begins in an old quarter of the city, where he meets the strange Marina and her father, Germán Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the last Sunday of each month. At exactly ten o'clock in the morning, a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman, her face shrouded be a black velvet cloak. Holding a single rose, she walks to a gravestone that bears no name, only a mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.

When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her, they begin a journey that transports them to a forgotten, postwar Barcelona--a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons--and reveals a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.

I bought this book because ever since I first heard about its release in this version, I wanted it. Zafon's storytelling is never more eerie or more stunning than when he is telling his young adult stories. The great thing about it is that it never feels like he has written them for children. It's like he has written them just for you, regardless of your age, gender, race. It wouldn't matter if you were a starfish, seriously.

This novel really hits the mark for me. It is a true young adult book in that it truly shows the progressiong of the main character from a boy into a young man. At first he is timid, unsure of what to do, but by the end of the book he has never been more sure of himself. Yes, he still is capable of making mistakes, but now he is past the point of childishness. 

The storytelling is superb, and as always, the mystery is hugely compelling and not one that you can easily discover just by thinking about it for a little while. Zafon leads you on a rich chase through some of the most disturbing imagery I have ever read about. Acid is thrown in faces, black butterflies swarming in the depths of a rotting house, dark, dilapidated houses, horrible things living in the sewers and grotesquely human-like mannequins. This all still makes me shudder.

As for Marina, she is an intriguing character, and one that perhaps you never truly understand, however much Oscar tries to. She and her father are deeply enigmatic characters, and I loved reading about them, their house, their lifestyle, their hopes. I think I liked the fact that every single character was in a way imperfect, broken in some way that was never really meant to be mended. It lent a bleak feel to the book as a whole, but one that I could understand from where I am standing now, looking back on my own past and realising that everything was not as rose-tinted as I was led to believe.

I loved that this story sets off being very much a ghost story and entirely fooled you into thinking that way. Instead the answer to the riddle is grounded very nicely somewhere between reality and science, with a small piece of creative license, of course.

A creepy, twisted read, but not so terrifying that it might keep you awake at night ( I don't think). That being said, I think this is more suited to a higher YA age range, say 16, 17, 18, in order to truly understand the deeper meaning of the book.


Marina on Goodreads


13 May 2015

ARC Review: Forget Me Knot - Ruth Silver (Royal Reaper 2)

"Don’t mess with death. 

When Wynter explores his newly developed dark angel powers, regret soon fills his heart and mind. Saving a soul isn’t what he imagined it to be, and it puts the grim reaper he loves in grave danger.

Obligated to take the throne as Queen, Mara must face the truth and unravel secrets she may not be ready to accept.

The second book in the Royal Reaper saga takes you on a paranormal fantasy adventure into a world of grim reapers, dark angels, and undead trucidators.

After reading the first book, I was really interested in reading the second. I'm really glad to say that I wasn't disappointed. The ideas of life, death and the inbetween - the undead - really have started to make me think about what really does happen after we die. Yes, it's a macabre thought that perhaps the usual teenage readers may not want to think about, but they will. At least this book gives them quite a nice answer, if a little disturbing to know there is definitely a hell, but nobody is saying anything about a heaven!

Anyway, although the blurb above doesn't tell you this as such, the book is still all about Leila/Ophelia and her struggles with being a grim reaper. As usual, she's getting herself into trouble, but this time the action has stepped up a notch and things escalate pretty quickly. This is definitely going to get interesting in the third installment.

This time around, the world and the character inside of it are getting more complex. Suddenly Mara is getting a whole lot cooler as she becomes queen, we discover that the life of a Dark Angel isn't quite as simple as we were led to believe, and there's something else. Something about Leila that we didn't know before, and that we're going to find out about in the next book, no doubt. This book was very tantalising for me.. I can see it all coming but I just can't figure out how it'll be pieced together!

There were a couple of flaws in the book, in that character development of the main character was put aside in order for her sister to be developed more. As a result, the relationships with her friends and even with Wynter suffered. Suddenly she and Wynter live in this idyllic coupley life, which is definitely not what would really happen. Although the way this was discarded didn't actually hurt the plot or the pacing in the slightest, I feel that a little bit more filler would have been nice to separate the action.

The pace was perfect, and it was an easy read that honestly captures the imagination and attention. The Saga is definitely worth getting for a teen reader (or even one a bit older). 

The next book is looking promising, and there were a lot of cool things that happened at the end of this book. It will be really great to see how all that pans out.


Forget Me Knot on Goodreads

Thanks to Ruth Silver for the ARC copy. This has not affected my review.