Review: The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

Thursday, 19 May 2016


The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1)

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

Candidates for the best bromance of 2016: Pasha and Nikolai. Honestly, these two were the best part of this book and I just wish I could see more of them, even though that is highly unlikely. 

I also thought this book was a standalone, I'm not sure how the second book can follow on in the same vein after how the book ended and that makes me feel totally sad. Now I'm not going to lie, I'd be happier if it was a standalone solely because I feel like The Crown's Game was enough - it lacked a lot of things to me and I really don't know where it can go from here... and I'm not sure if I'll even want to read a sequel.

I felt that this book was going to be very dark, with strong characters and tested loyalties a la the Grisha Trilogy, instead I feel like I got something which felt shallow. Where were the magic attacks? This crown's game is about finding the Tsar's next enchanter, to protect the kingdom. So why were Vika and Nikolai so dead set on doing little pretty things. Painting a building is one thing, but surely staging an attack on your opponent is a much better way of showing why you are the best enchanter. Ugh, and don't tell me it's because of lurrrve because I genuinely don't feel like Vika loved Nikolai. It was very shallow, I didn't feel like they really had any meaningful feelings for each other and the instalove on all parts of the love triangle pissed me off. It seemed like Skye had decided it was going to happen and just wrote it in, with no development.

I loved the world building in The Crown's Game, it's really the only thing that I did enjoy. This Russian setting with a twist on it, the magic and the colour and the nature and the balls and the royalty and everything - the explanations for why only one enchanter could be victorious, all of it just totally worked for me and I would, for this reason only, be totally willing to check out anything else this author put out.

Unfortunately though, to say that The Crown's Game was one of my most anticipated reads of this year, I have to say I feel totally let down by the execution...

Overall Rating: C-

Book released May 17th  2016 by Balzer and Bray
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Waiting on Wednesday (18th May)

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Anyway, here are my WOW picks, let me know what you think and link me to yours!


Nemesis by Anna Banks
October 4th - Feiwel and Friends

Nemesis (Nemesis #1)
Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king's servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.
 My thoughts:
Yes, the cover is absolutely hideous. Hopefully it looks better in person. BUT BUT BUT doesn't that synopsis sound soooooo good! Princess turned into servant, magic, enemies... I definitely must read this book!




How To Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler
June 14th - Simon Pulse

How to DisappearNicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she's pretty sure she can get away with anything...until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette's house. Which is why she has to disappear.

Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A's and athletic trophies can't make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.
  My thoughts:
Oh my gush. Everything about this sounds so good. High thrill chase, disappearing, hitmen. I need this like, yesterday. 

Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Thursday, 12 May 2016

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)
The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.

As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.
When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

It's rare that I have to make notes whilst reading a book but I actually found it necessary whilst reading This Savage Song because I had so many thoughts going through my head throughout! Looking back, my notes are pretty illegible and incomprehensible. I think that's probably a good thing.

This Savage Song is the first book by Schwab that I've read. I know, that's pretty much sacrilege for a YA blogger, especially one that's been blogging as long as me (6 years this summer), but I guess I just never got round to it. I regret that, because This Savage Song  was one of the most well formed that I have ever read. The world building, the characters, the messages included - it was so well done.

I loved the blurred lines that Schwab creates: To start with we are told that monsters are monsters and humans are good, but then we are brought to question this outlook when we meet August. This was a well done plot point and runs through the entirity of this book. I love it when things are introduced as black and white then the reader sees the grey space. 

What really stood out to me was the love story, or the lack of one. I was expecting a Romeo and Juliet impossible love sort of thing. The romance was there, in the tiniest of hints, but it wasn't a central point of the book - in fact, it's very nearly not there at all. This was refreshing, especially since August and Kate were brilliant characters in their own ways and they didn't need anything to distract from that.

If I had anything to knock in this book, it's that the information is fed to us very slowly and as a result I felt at stages that I had no clue what was going on. i hate info-dumping, but it may have been a little necessary at points in this book. Still, if you can't already tell, I loved this book and really cabn't complain about much in it...

Overall Rating: A

Book released 7th June 2016 by Greenwillow Books
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: One by Sarah Crossan

Friday, 6 May 2016


One
Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

I've been a little bit wary of reading One because the last book that I read by this author, Breathe is still, to this day, one of my worst memories of my time blogging. After reading some really brilliant feedback of One I decided to bit the bullet and give it a go. I do not regret this decision.

One is one of the most poignant and heartwrenching books I have read in a long time. Written in freeform prose, it has a really simple, breezy feel to it but the actual plot is the exact opposite of that. I have to admit that it was at times difficult to come to terms with Tippi and Grace as two separate characters as they share one body, and this was at times hard to get my head around and visualise, but they both have their own personality. Grace is the quieter one, she's more reserved. Tippi is a bit more daring, but they are both vulnerable and insecure because of who they are. When things come in that makes them question whether they really are better together and then they are pushed to make a life changing decision about their future things get really deep.

For me, this book  was a quick read, but it was in  no way easy. The ending of this book is somewhat predictable, but that didn't stop my heart from breaking in two when I closed my kindle. It was a beautiful, sad story about growing up and growing into yourself, with a twist on it that makes is gorgeously original and extremely touching.

One has definitely changed my mind about Sarah Crossan, and I won't think twice about reading anything she puts out in the future, because this beautiful, well written book proves that she really is an exemplary author.

Overall Rating: A

Book released August 2015 by Bloomsbury Children
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (DNF)

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Passenger (Passenger, #1)
In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

Passenger is a book that I think you'll either love or hate, for me it was the second, or at least the 27% that I read was.

I found the first quarter of this book just dragged for me, with very detailed descriptions of every sight, sound... the romance just dropped in instantaneously and for me the story just didn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Usually, if this is the case then I will just push through until something interesting happens, but that just didn't seem likely in this case so instead I just gave up.

It's a pity because Bracken's Brightly Woven is always one of my fave books to read if I am in a slump, it's so witty and bright and exciting, but since then I haven't managed to get through a single of her books. I know she can do it, but she just isn't doing it for me these days.

Overall Rating: DNF

Book released January 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Monday, 2 May 2016


The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

I hate to say it, but The Winner's Kiss was my least favorite book in The Winner Trilogy. Considering the fact that this has been one of my fave series in recent years that makes me feel a little bit disappointed, however that doesn't mean that I didn't really enjoy it. I just didn't get the heart pounding, super dramatic conclusion that I had been expecting. The Winner's Kiss was a slowly developing story, with the Kestrel/Arin dynamic completely changed in a way that I didn't exactly love.

Now don't get me wrong, I loved the two of them in this book. How could I not - Arin is like my #1 YA swoony guy and Kestrel is and always has been a very strong character, but lets just say she is not herself in this book and I feel like the characters that I had taken two books to get to know just turned 180 degrees on me. What I did enjoy was the freedom that they had (from about a third in) to be themselves and explore their feelings, but this new setting also took a bit of the sexiness out of the pairing, that tension that they had kept hidden because they needed to.

But don't get me wrong, this book was thrilling. There were battles that seemed impossible, obstacles to face and in the end, a battle of wits and a cunning plan. Everything came together seamlessly in that way that I have come to expect from this author, and I didn't exactly feel unfulfilled. I just felt somewhat that I had gone in with too high expectations and this book just couldn't reach them.

It was still brilliant, I still really enjoyed it, but the changed dynamics and the change in setting and the characters changing just didn't exactly do it for me, so I can only give this book a B. The other two were A rated.

Overall Rating: B

Book released 24th Marh 2016 by Bloomsbury Children
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The List
An intense look at the rules of high school attraction - and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

I did enjoy this take on self-worth and body image. For what it is, The List does a good job. This isn't a book making waves, its not about getting over self issues. This book is more about warping how people see themselves.

It does get a little bit confusing with all of the POVs and I did keep having to remind myself who was who because I kept getting the names mixed up. I enjoyed some people's story (Bridget, Candace and Jennifer) more than others (Sarah and Margo) but they all had their own individual points to make and I love how Vivian manages to make each character genuine and different from each other. 

The story itself is well written. I felt that compulsive urge to keep reading and I really enjoyed every page of it, though I do have to say that when I finished the book i didn't feel a sense of contentment. I didn't feel like anyone's issues were resolved (see my first paragraph above - this isn't about getting over issues). I felt that this didn't quite work for me - we have anorexic characters in this book and characters that fall out and characters that dislike themselves. Of course, in life not everything is tied up with a pretty little bow, but I did feel like the book sort of trailed off. it didn't end conclusively.

Overall, The List is okay at what it does. It's well written with different dynamic characters. I did feel like something was missing throughout it though, and the ending was very 'meh'.

Overall Rating: C-

Book released March 2014 by Scholastic Paperbacks
Book received from the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.