Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review on Odd & True

Trudchen Grey has listened to her older sister's tall tales about the supernatural her whole life. After Odette suddenly crashes back into Trudchen's life after a two year absence, Tru has had just about enough of Od's silly stories. However, doubt lurks on the edges of Tru's subconscious. A formidable looking creature has made a recurrent appearance in Tru's tea leaf readings. When the readings lead them to their mother's house, they are also lead into rumours of the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish creature creating fear and chaos. Could this be the monster from Tru's tea leaves, or is it just a local legend?

When I read what this book was about, I was instantly sold! Magic and monsters are right up my street, and the fact it focused on two monster hunting sisters made it sound even better! The book follows fifteen year old Trudchen, and her older sister, Odette. After learning about a monster in Philadelphia, known as the Leeds Devil, the sisters decide to hunt it down. However, Odette has an alternative motive for wanting to travel round the country. A secret that she is keeping from her sister.

The book is split into two parts, with Tru narrating the current events in 1909, and Od telling Tru about her past through a series of letters. I loved this way of narrating, as the chapters alternated between the two timelines, it was slowly revealed to us what Odette was actually doing in the two years she was away from home, which helped to fill in the blanks of Tru's story. I also loved the time period it was set in, as apart from The Infernal Devices, I don't think I've ever read a fantasy book set in this era.

One thing I immediately loved way the fact that Tru was disabled. After contracting polio, Tru is left with a paralysed leg. Tru is eventually able to walk around with the help of a leg brace, and uses a wheelchair for longer journeys. I feel as if there is a huge lack of disabled characters in YA fantasy, so I loved how such a strong character was given a physical disability. Although it would have been safer to stay with her Aunt, Tru endures a long journey across the country to find her mother and save Philadelphia from a monster. I loved how brave she was, and I felt as if it gave a positive message to disabled people that although their goals may be more difficult to achieve for them than they would be for able bodied people, It is still possible to achieve them with strength and determination.

Although I enjoyed both of the sisters narratives, I did prefer Tru's. I eventually loved Od's narrative and learning about their childhood, but as I started this book expecting a fantasy story, I was initially a little disappointed over the lack of fantasy elements. I did feel sorry for Od, as she had to go through such emotional trauma at such a young age, but I was also disappointed that the story went in the direction that it did, as it wasn't what I was expecting from the book at all. I enjoyed Tru's part of the story more, but I felt as if progressed too slowly. When the story did finally reach it's climax, I was disappointed that it was all over in a couple of pages. I was looking forward to their eventual encounter with a monster, and when it finally happened it was over just as I was getting into it. I was hoping that the sisters would be a bit like a female version of the Winchester brothers, and as a book marketed as being about monster slaying and magic, I felt as if it was lacking in monster slaying and magic. It was a little like that scene in The Wizard of Oz where the wizard turns out to be a little old man without any powers.

Apart from Od, Tru and Uncle Magnus, I felt as if non of the rest of the characters were likable. This my have been intentional to keep out focus on the sisters, but I do enjoy a good side character to keep the protagonists in check. I felt as if Cy was awful for abandoning Od when she needed him the most, and I was glad that she told him where to go in the end. I was disappointed that Ezra was only there to serve as a love interest for Tru, as I felt as if he had the potential to become the lovable side character I felt was missing.

I feel as if it's partly my fault I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would, as I think I made a lot of assumptions from reading the blurb, and went into the book with my brain full of magic and monsters. However once I came to terms with the fact the book wasn't going in the direction I thought it would, I started enjoying it for what it was. I particularly loved the bond between the sisters, and how their relationship was the focus of the book rather than a romance. One thing I did love about the lack of monsters however was that I, like the sisters, started to doubt if monsters really existed in their world, or if it was just going to be a metaphor for the suffering they had to endure.

Although the book wasn't what I was expecting, I did enjoy it overall, particularly towards the end when I practically flew through the last few chapters! I felt as if the epilogue was sweet and the perfect ending, and I loved that the sisters regained their beliefs in magic and monsters. This wasn't the action packed monster slaying book I was expecting it to be, but I loved the family values, and it managed to surprise me! I'm going to give this one a 4 star rating, but I think for me it was more of a 3.5.

Odd & True is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Harry Potter Tag

OMG HARREH POTTA!!! So I've been tagged by one of my blogger besties ReadableLife in the Harry Potter tag!! So if you know me at all you'll know I have a mild to extreme Harry Potter obsession, so this is obviously the perfect tag for me! So I bring to you, the Harry Potter Tag!

 What house are you in?

Slytherin of course!!! Back in the day I used to think I was a Gryffindor, but i've taken the Pottermore sorting hat multiple times along with lots of unofficial quizzes and I've been put in Slytherin every time! Now when I say I used to be a Gryffindor, what I mean is that I've been a huge Harry Potter fan since I was eight, and I've been a Slytherin for at least ten years now! And no we're not all evil!!

 What is your Patronus?

So according to Pottermore my Patronus is an Eagle Owl. The funny thing is that I actually met an Eagle Owl a few days before I took the Patronus quiz so I guess it was meant to be! Also I adore owls so I'm perfectly ok with this.
What is your wand?

So back to Pottermore! I actually had to sign in for this one because I forgot. I actually adored my wand the first time I took the quiz, but unfortunately I lost my log in details! I remember it had dragon heartstring though which I much preferred to my current wand which has a core of unicorn hair. It's made of yew wood, 10 ½ inches and slightly springy! I own a death eater wand in real life which is honestly so pretty I love it.
What would your Boggart be?

Ooh interesting question. I'm not sure to be honest and I don't want to go too dark. I remember Mrs Weasley's boggart was of her family being dead, so maybe mine would be my dog being dead I love my doggo

What position would you play in Quidditch?

I would probably just be cheering from the stands as I'm terrible at sports, and I doubt Quidditch would be any different! I'm also pretty clumsy so I would 100% fall off my broom. If I had to choose though I'd probably be a beater. It sounds fun knocking balls into the opponents.

Would you be pureblood, halfblood, or muggle born?

Pure blood of course! I can't be dealing with those filthy mudbloods.
What job would you want to have after graduating Hogwarts?

I'd love to work at Borgan and Burkes. I mean imagine all the strange things you would see every day! I don't particularly enjoy working retail, but I think working there would be really fun. Working with dragons like Charlie Weasley would also be really fun, but I'd probably die on my first day.
Which Deathly Hallow would you choose?

The invisibility cloak so I could hide from my responsibilities.

Favourite book?

Prisoner of Azkaban! I've always loved time travelly things and I loved how this was done so cleverly. Time travel usually confuses me, but this was done so perfectly and wasn't confusing at all. It's also where two of my favourite characters were introduced, Sirius and Lupin. I love these two so much, and I remember being so shocked at the plot twist of Sirius being Harry's godfather!

Least favourite book?
Oh no I love them all! Probably Chamber of Secrets just because I found it a little on the slow side, but also I love Dobby. Ahhh don't make me choose least favourites I don't like it.
Favourite film?

Okay so this is probably going to be highly controversial as I've never seen anyone else say this was their favourite film before. It's Half Blood Prince. Now let me explain! This is where everything gets a whole lot darker, and I loved that so much. Also my favourite character is Draco Malfoy, and this film had a whole lot of Draco. Up until this point, Draco doesn't really get a whole lot of character development, but this one shows just how scared and vulnerable he is, and how once things get serious, he doesn't want to be a part of his dads shitty views anymore. Honestly I just want to hug Draco. Also I love how this is where we find out about Voldemort's horcruxes, and how Harry's journey on killing Voldemort finally starts here. Also although it is dark, it also has enough light hearted and funny moments!

Least favourite film?

Hmm probably Order of the Phoenix. I still love it, especially the legendary scene where the Weasley twins escape from Hogwarts, but I just didn't feel as if it did the book justice. So much was left out, and I do realise that it is a monster of a book and the film couldn't fit in everything, but I just remember feeling a little disappointed with that adaptation.
Favourite Character?

Yes it is Draco Malfoy. I just feel as if there's so many layers to him that finally come to light in Half Blood Prince, and of course I always love a bad boy! I've always felt that under different circumstances, such as Draco's dad just being a grade A douchebag, Draco and Harry could actually have been friends. I feel that they actually have so much in common, and Gryffindor and Slytherin are actually quite similar despite hating each other. I know we all have different opinions on Cursed Child, but Draco in Cursed Child actually broke my heart with explaining how lonely he felt at Hogwarts and how he was jealous that Harry had such great friends. Please someone just give that boy a hug and be his friend.

Least favourite character?
Dolores Umbridge! Oh my god has there ever been a more dispised character? I think we all collectivly agree that she is so much worse than Voldemort.
Favourite Hogwarts Professor?
Mcgonagall! She is just such a badass and she is insanely cool. I love how much she actually cares about Harry, and her feud with Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix was actually legendary!
Least favourite Hogwarts Professor?

Well seeing as Umbridge was the DADA teacher in OOTP it would obviously have to be her again.

f you could save one character from the finale battle, who would you save?
Oh no just one? Probably either Tonks or Lupin, as I just feel so bad for little baby Teddy being an orphan. 

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Reviewing the Classics #10 Northanger Abbey

Goodreads Summary:

While enjoying a six weeks’ stay in fashionable Bath, the young and callow Catherine Morland is introduced to the delights of high society. Thanks to a new literary diet of the sensational and the macabre, Catherine travels to Northanger Abbey fully expecting to become embroiled in a Gothic adventure of intrigue and suspense – and, once there, soon begins to form the most gruesome and improbable theories about the exploits of its occupants.

An early work, but published posthumously, Northanger Abbey is a parody of the Gothic genre typified by the novels of Ann Radcliffe, as well as a witty comedy of manners in the style of Jane Austen’s later novels and, ultimately, an enchanting love story. 

So for this months classic, my lovely twitter folowers chose Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. The only Austen book I've read before is her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, so I was eager to read her earliest work. Before I start talking about the book, I want to thank Alma for sending me such a gorgeous classic! I probably wouldn't be able to keep up with this little segment of my blog without them, so go check them out!

The book follows Catherine Morland, a seventeen year old debutante, who gets invited by her neighbours to visit Bath with them. After reading Pride and Prejudice I had an idea of what I was getting myself into, but I couldn't help feeling as if the first half of the book was quite dull. Although the book is called Northanger Abbey, Catherine doesn't actually visit the abbey until halfway through the book. I found the first half to be tedious and repetitive, as apart from a couple of planned daytrips that are cancelled due to bad weather and not enough time, all Catherine really does is attend balls and talk to her friend, Isabella. Of course it wouldn't be a Jane Austen novel without a love interest that has us all swooning, which came in the form of Henry Tilney. Henry was a sweet character, but unfortunately I felt as if he just didn't have the unique personality that Mr Darcy had. One thing that I loved about Mr Darcy was the character development he went through, and I didn't really see anything similar to that with Mr Tilney. I did however love how he treated the women, and lets face it, a man who loves discussing books is ultimate goals.

Catherine was a sweet and innocent protagonist, and I loved how she was unaware of certain things around her, particularly with John's romantic advances. I found it funny how she was completely shocked after learning that John had feelings for her, when it was obvious to the reader and the other characters. John, like his sister Isabella, was quite an annoying character, and I wasn't a fan of the love triangle that was happening.Honestly I can't believe that I can't escape love triangles  even in classic literature!

I enjoyed the second half of the book a lot more, and I particularly loved the Gothic satire. Catherine is a big fan of Gothic literature, and upon visiting Northanger Abbey, seems to think she is the protagonist of the novels she loves so much. This was actually my favourite part of the book just because of how dramatic she was being, and how she was creating her own version of events about Henry's mother. I particualry loved how Catherine thought she was unearthing some great secret by snooping around in a cabinet, when all she found was a few pieces of paper that turned out to be a laundry list and some receipts. Catberne was naïve and ridiculous and I loved her!

There were some characters who were just irksome, particularly John and Isabella. Isabella seemed to go after whatever man was interested in her at the time, and I felt sorry for James, who seemed to have genuine feelings for her. I also found John annoying, as he wouldn't leave Catherine alone, and got annoyed when she tried to spend time with Henry and Eleanor. I felt as if he seemed jealous that she had other friends, and kept trying to persuade her to change any plans she had made with the Tilney's. I was glad that Caterhine didn't reciprocate his feelings, as I felt as if that would have turned into a really unhealthy relationhip. He was also a huge brat for shit talking Catherine to General Tilney after he found out she didn't want him back lets be real.

I didn't enjoy this one as much as Pride and Prejudice, but I did love the satirical elements, and found Catherine to be a delightful creature (internal cringe) It made me want to go to an extravagant ball and wear a poofy dress. Seriously why aren't balls still a thing? I'm sure I would enjoy them more than sweaty nightclubs. I will hopefully read more Jane Austen books in the future!

Northanger Abbey is now available to purchase!

 Alma Classics  | Amazon Book Depository 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Book Club Picks #9 Dramarama

When Sadye Paulson gets accepted into a summer drama school, she is ecstatic! With her best friend, Demi, she enters the lives of other teenagers with the same dreams as her. However, drama school isn't all show-tunes and jazz hands. Sadye soon realises that being a theatre actor is more difficult than she thought, and a lot of her peers have more experience than she does. Sadye must work hard to show her teachers she is worthy of being there, but will her efforts be enough?

 As a huge musical theatre geek, this book seemed like it would be right up my street! Although I can't act to save my life, and my singing sounds like a cat being strangled,I do love listening to show-tunes, and have even seen a few West End shows and touring casts. I was therefore extremely happy when I discovered that February's book club book would be about a drama school!

The book follows Sarah Paulson, who under the advice of her best friend Douglas, a.k.a Demi, changes her name to Sadye. Sadye is extremely excited when she gets accepted into a summer drama programme, and is determined to show Morales, director of Broadway hit Oliver! what she's got. As Sadye hadn't had a lot of previous experience, I felt as if she was a little delusional, as she believed she would get all of the lead roles.I loved how she was brought back down to earth by her new friends,especially Nanette, who had previously been on Broadway. I loved how Nanette explained that being an actor isn't all glitz and glamour, and how pressured she felt by her family to get lead roles. I felt as if Sadye initially tried to place her roommates in a hierarchy, and didn't want to be on the bottom. Sadye seemed to be trying to push Candie to the bottom of her hierarchy, going so far as to bullying her for not being a great dancer.Although Sadye had her own weaknesses, she seemed to be trying to hide them by bringing Candie's to the foreground. Although I liked Sadye's enthusiasm, I didn't like that she felt the need to be mean to others in an attempt to make herself feel good.

Although the majority of the characters were white and heterosexual, there was a little diversity in the form of Demi, Lyle and Theo. I did however feel as if the majority of the diversity was packed into Demi, and as he was very flamboyant, he felt a little stereotypical. However I did adore Demi, and I felt as if Sadye treated him unfairly at times. I hated that she accused him for leading Lyle on when he had never done something like that before, and how her jealously caused arguments between them. I also found it unnecessary for Sadye to have a crush on Demi, as it was only mentioned in one paragraph towards the end of the book, and seemed to be completely random. I think I would have preferred if their relationship had remained 100% platonic.

Sadye was quite selfish for the majority of the book, especially when it came to Demi. I felt as if her unnecessary arguments with him led him to not trust her as much, and was reluctant to tell her his plans for the future in case she reacted badly. I mostly agreed with Demi in that Sadye was making her teachers notice her for all the wrong reasons, as she continued to pick fights with them when they were just doing their best to help her to improve. I felt as if Sadye never approached anything with an open mind, and instead of accepting constructive criticism, she was constantly criticising her teachers ways of teaching. I did however love that she redeemed herself with Demi, and sacrificed her happiness for his future.

One thing that was quite annoying for me was the lack of chapters. I always have to have chapters to give me a good idea of when it's okay to put the book down and go do something else. However, this book wasn't even split into parts, so it was difficult to decide when to stop reading. I didn't actually see a good reason for there to be no chapters, so I felt as if it would have made reading it a little easier for me if it had had chapters.

The one thing that really annoyed me was the epilogue! I felt as if it was unnecessary, and the book should have finished with the previous chapter. I felt as if the last chapter showed that sometimes things don't go how you thought they would, and sometimes you drift away from people who were once your friends. However, the epilogue seemed completely random, as it never actually gave us a time frame for when this was happening and was quite abrupt. Although I get that some authors like to leave an open ending for the reader to decide what happened next, I would have liked to have had a little more closure.

Although I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I was going to, it was still an interesting read. I loved all of the references to various musicals, songs and actors, and there was a couple of instances where a song would be mentioned and I would get it stuck in my head and start singing it! I felt as if most things were explained well enough for people who aren't into theatre to understand the references, but it did feel as if the book was written with fellow theatre geeks in mind. Although I am unsure if anyone who doesn't know the difference between a Tony award and Tony Hawk (points if you understood that reference!) would enjoy it this book, I think theatre lovers may like it.

Dramarama is now available to purchase!

   | Amazon Book Depository 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

BLOG TOUR: Review on Dare to Fall

Pages: 325

Publisher: Ink Road

Goodreads Summary:

There's not much that MacKenzie Rivers is afraid of. In the small town of Windsor, Colorado, she is known for her easygoing, strong personality, some would even say she isn't afraid of anything. But MacKenzie knows that's not true. She's afraid of losing those closest to her. Recovering from a family tragedy, Kenzie is fully aware of just how big an impact death can have on those it leaves behind. Seeing its effects on other people is something she just can't quite handle. From now on, Kenzie is her own priority.

There are not many things that Jaden Hunter can make sense of. He doesn't understand why it was his parents who lost their lives last year. He doesn't understand why his friends don't crack jokes around him any more. He doesn't understand why his teachers still insist on letting him skip assignments. He doesn't understand why MacKenzie, the girl he was falling for last year, has suddenly distanced herself from him.

Too afraid to get wrapped up in Jaden's world as he deals with the tragic death of his parents, Kenzie has stayed away from him as best she can, until one night when they unexpectedly come face-to-face for the first time in months. As old feelings resurface and new memories are made, both MacKenzie and Jaden show each other how to appreciate the little things in life, the moments that are taken for granted. But will MacKenzie dare to fall for the one person she's so afraid of growing close to?

So I'll admit that it took me a while to decide if I wanted to sign up to this blog tour. Dare to Fall sounded like the type of cheesy contemporary romance that I usually hate, but the fact that the characters had gone through some sort of huge tragedy piqued my interest enough to give it a go! The book follows MacKenzie Rivers, a girl in her senior year of high school. Four years ago, MacKenzie experienced unimaginable grief when her baby sister was stillborn. When MacKenzie's mum starts drinking as a coping mechanism, MacKenzie feels lost and alone in her own grief. The only people who she knows would understand how she is feeling are twins Dani and Jaden Hunter, who lost their parents in a car crash. I felt as if this book dealt with grief in a raw and open way. Everyone copes with grief in different ways, and I loved how this was shown through the characters, such as MacKenzie's mum's drinking problem, and Dani cutting herself off from the outside world. I felt as if the book gave some good advice on how to cope with the loss of a loved one, such as opening up to others rather than keeping the emotions bottled up inside.

So the characters! I am continuing my trend of having a side character as my favourite, as I absolutely adored Kenzie's friend, Will. I loved how sweet he was, and how much he cared about Kenzie. I also loved that her best friends were both boys, and that there were no romantic feelings between them. I did have one problem with Will, which was how his sexuality seemed to be dismissed. We are told that the reason Kenzie has never dated Will is because he is gay, but apart from one homophobic comment, his sexuality is never brought up again. Now I love when there is a gay character who's plot doesn't revolve around the fact that they're gay, but I felt as if that wasn't what was happening here. There are practically no diverse characters in this book apart from Will, so I felt as if he was made to be gay for the sake of diversity. As Kenzie's other friend, Holden, never really has a love interest, and is described as never having a crush on the same person for long, I was hoping that something would happen between the two of them, but sadly I got my hopes up for nothing.

And now the romance, the part where I inevitably complain about how much I hated it, except, plot twist, I didn't actually hate it! One thing that I loved about the relationship between Kenzie and Jaden was that it wasn't the typically cliché instalove that I have come to loath. They had dated before the accident that had killed Jaden's parents, so this was more of a rekindling of their relationship. I loved how their relationship progressed slowly and naturally, and although there were a few cheesy moments, nothing made me want to roll my eyes. I initially thought Kenzie was quite mean for cutting Jaden and Dani out of her life at a time when they needed her the most, but I slowly started to see things from both perspectives.

So that plot twist! It's always difficult for me to talk about plot twists, as although I obviously don't want to spoil them, I also can't not mention them, especially when they are as shocking as this one! Although little hints were given that something wasn't quite right with Holden, I really didn't expect what had actually happened to him. The ending seemed bittersweet, as although things were starting to go in the right direction for Kenzie and Jaden, they were definitely going in the wrong direction for poor Holden. I was torn between feeling really sorry for him, and thinking how wrong it was for him to have kept his secret for so long. Really can someone please give that poor boy a hug?

I'm actually quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! Usually contemporary romance is a big no no for me, but I found the characters realistic, and there was enough going on outside of the romance to keep me interested. This is the first book I've read by Estelle Maskame, but it definitely won't be the last!

Dare to Fall is now available to purchase!

BlackandWhitePublishing| Amazon Book Depository 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Review on Broken Branches

There is a curse in Ian Perkin's family. A curse that goes back over a century. After Ian's uncle and brother die in tragic ways, Ian decides to research his family tree in an attempt to see how far back the curse goes, and prove to his wife that it exists. Ian's obsession with the curse causes him to neglect his job and family, leaving him alone in the house after his wife takes their son away to live with her mother. Alone in the house, Ian starts to experience things he can't explain. What is the shadow lurking in his peripheral vision? Who is the small boy who comes to visit him once it gets dark? Will Ian be able to stop the curse from coming for his family, or is it already too late?

Sometimes you come across those books that you think you aren't going to enjoy before you even open them. It could be the cover or the blurb that just doesn't quite grab your attention, but there's just something about the book that makes you go into it with low expectations. This was my initial reaction to Broken Branches. Although Hideaway Fall have been lovely, and I adored the blogger pack I received from them, I wasn't really looking forward to receiving their first publication. When I started the book rather reluctantly almost a month after receiving it, I thought my first impression had been right. Apart from wanting to know more about what happened to Ian's brother, I wasn't really interested in Ian's mundane family life, and almost decided to give up a couple of chapters in. But then something changed. A change in tense to explain Ian's past, and from that point I was hooked! I needed to know more about this curse, what really happened to Uncle Stephen and what drove Stuart to commit suicide. I realised my first impression had been wrong, and I ended up not wanting to put the book down!

So more about the book itself. It follows Ian, a seemingly average man who works from home, has a nice house and lives with his wife, Rachel, and their small son, Harry. However, something a little more sinister lies beneath the surface, a family curse that goes back generations. I found the origin of the curse to be both sad and creepy, and it made me wonder if there really was a curse, or if the deaths in the family were just unfortunate coincidences. The story is told from two different timelines, one being told from the present, and the other from Ian's childhood. I found this to be initially confusing, as it took me a while to realise what was going on, and although the chapters usually alternated between what tense we were in, sometimes they broke this pattern, leading me to believe it was being told from Ian's childhood when it was actually from the present. I felt as if this could have easily been resolved by adding the date at the start of each chapter. I do realise some authors dislike doing this, as it dates their work, but I felt as if it wouldn't be a huge problem with this book, as we get a sense of it being in the modern world from the technology available. Although I did enjoy both timelines, I preferred reading about Ian's childhood, as I loved learning about what had happened to his family, and the reason why he stopped talking to them.

I felt sorry for Ian, as it was obvious that Stuart was the preferred child. Whereas on Stuart's sixteenth birthday he was told he would inherit the farm, Ian's birthday was ignored. I felt as if the only family member who treated him with kindness was his mother, and it was sad how Ian felt as if he didn't belong in his hometown anymore.

Parts of the story were told in a horror story type fashion, which I loved, and found to be quite creepy, particularly when Ian was in an empty house. I adored the imagery that went into creating a creepy and uneasy atmosphere, and I particularly loved how the tree was personified to make it seem more sinister.

Something that I thought worked brilliantly was how we were given frequent but subtle hints that something wasn't quite right with Ian's mental state, such as how he was obsessed with his family tree to the point that he neglected his job, and didn't even seem to care when he got fired. Although we get most of the story from Ian's point of view, I loved that we got to see Ian through Rachel's eyes. Ian is estranged from his family, but it is obvious that the deaths of his family members have caused a huge amount of stress and grief for him. We all deal with such raw emotions in different ways, and Ian's way is to throw himself into trying to prove that a family curse is real. Along with feeling sorry for Ian, I also felt sorry for Rachel. It was obvious that she just wanted to help her husband, but it was all becoming a little too much for her. The fact that she didn't believe in the curse at all showed just how bad Ian's current mental state was.

There are a few upsetting themes that I thought I would just quickly mention, including implied murder, depression, suicide, grief, and the deaths of children. There are a couple of death scenes that I found to be quite gruesome and shocking, with one being particularly heartbreaking, so either avoid this book or read with caution if you think any of these themes will cause you distress.

So the ending, oh my god. Obviously I don't want to spoil anything, but that was the plot twist to end all plot twists! It was completely shocking and unexpected, and gave us a little confirmation as to if supernatural occurrences were actually happening, or if it was all in Ian's head. I felt as if Ian's grief and depression were shown in a realistic way, and how sometimes we repress memories due to a high level of trauma.

I've learnt that sometimes my first impression of a book is completely wrong, as I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. It deals with grief, loss and depression in a real and flawless way, with an added bonus of supernatural elements. If, like me, Broken Branches isn't the type of book you would normally enjoy, then I would urge you to give it a go, as you might just be surprised!

Broken Branches is now available to purchase!

  | Amazon Book Depository

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Review on The Waking Land

When Elanna is five years old, she is kidnapped by King Antoine, an enemy of her father, and taken to live with him in Eren. Elanna grows up to love Antoine like a father, and is soon taught to see her own people as the enemy. However, fourteen years after Elanna was taken, King Antoine is murdered, and Elanna becomes the prime suspect. Elanna is forced to flee Eren, and return to the parents who never tried to rescue her. After discovering she is the Caveadear, a powerful sorceress who can control the land, Elanna must decide where her loyalties lie, and whether she'll show mercy, or seek revenge.

So as I've probably mentioned multiple times, fantasy is my all time favourite genre. After managing to tear my eyes away from the gorgeous cover for long enough to actually read the synopsis, I knew I had to read this one! It follows Elanna, a sorceress who has been kidnapped by the King. The book starts with a map, yes a map! I always get excited over seeing a map at the start of the book, as it always means that the protagonist is going to be going on some sort of epic adventure. After staring at the map for at least ten minutes, I was happy to discover that the book started with a prologue instead of going into back story later down the line. I feel that being in the heart of the story rather than a character telling a long winded back story is always more effective at getting the point across, and doesn't bore the reader. It immediately made me interested in Elanna's story, and wanting to find out what was going to happen to her.

Although the book started out in a promising way, I felt as if it progressed a little too slowly, and I did find it to be a little boring at times. There was a lot of travelling after the initial escape from Eren, which felt quite slow and tedious. It took me quite a while to get into the book because of this, and I was often only reading for ten minutes at a time before getting bored. I did however start to enjoy the book more once we started to learn more about Elanna's abilities. Although I have seen powers similar to Elanna's in other YA books, I loved that there was lore behind who she was, and I loved learning about Wildegarde and her ancestors. I also loved how she slowly learnt the extent of her powers. I particularly adored her powers towards the end of the book, as the walking trees reminded me of the Ent's from Lord of the Rings.

I was a little disappointed in the characters themselves, as I felt as if most of them lacked personality, and the fact that most of them appeared sporadically didn't do much to help me gain some sort of emotional attachment to them. Although the protagonist is rarely my favourite character in fantasy books, I think Elanna was my favourite simply because she was one of the few characters with a past, and I felt sorry for her for what she had to endure. With the exception of Rhia, I found the rest of the female characters dull. I did initially like Victoire, Elanna's best friend, but like some of the other characters, she disappeared for half of the book, and I'd lost interest in her by the time she returned. Although I did love the reveal of who Sophy really was, I again found her quite dull as a character.

I did like a couple of the male characters, particularly Finn. I loved the reveal of who he really was, and also his friendship with Jahan. I thought Finn was a sweet character, and he seemed one of the more realistic characters, as he had flaws such as running away from danger rather than laying down his life. Although I loved Jahan as a character, I found his relationship with Elanna a little uncomfortable. I knew from the moment he was introduced that he would be the love interest, and I found the romance between him and Elanna to be too cheesy and instalovey, with Elanna pretty much instantly being attracted to him. I found the whole wedding the land plot particularly weird, and didn't quite understand how that actually worked. One thing that I thought was unnecessary was the rumour than Jahan was in a romantic relationship with the prince who he had saved. As this turned out to be untrue, it felt a little as if it was queer baiting, and I felt as if this was the wrong way to go about making Elanna jealous, and believing Jahan was already taken. Aside from the romance, I thought Jahan was an interesting character, and I wanted to learn more about his past and the extent of his powers. I also want to briefly mention The Butcher, one of the main villains in the book. I loved how he was initially seen as a ruthless villain who was not above torturing people, but throughout the book we were given little hints that he wasn't as bad as he seemed. I loved that it was impossible to tell which side he would take, and I was quietly rooting for him to do the right thing and help Elanna.

I loved that Elanna was torn between Eren and Caeris, as she had a history of living in both. It was interesting to see that Elanna seemed to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, as although she was kidnapped and kept against her will, she soon sees her kidnapper as a fatherly figure. Elanna acted as a bridge between Eren and Caeris, and I loved how she slowly realised how everything she had been taught about Caeris was a lie, and how she helped both sides to co-exist by showing them how corrupt their Queen was. Although the action picked up towards the end of the book, I felt as if they won their cause far too easily. I loved that they won with little bloodshed, but it also felt a little like an anti climax with everyone deciding to surrender. I felt as if a little resistance would have made it more exciting, and would have given Elanna a bit more of a challenge.

There were several instances where the book completely confused me, particular in the first half. There were so many locations to keep track of, and I was constantly referring back to the map to find out where the characters were. I felt as if the map could have done with being extended slightly, as there were a few places mentioned that weren't actually on the map. I was also confused over some of the characters, particularly those who were mentioned several times, but who we never got to meet. I spent a good few chapters thinking that Finn was the prince who Jahan had saved, only later figuring out that Jahan's prince was a completely different character who we never got to meet. I also felt there were too many background characters who I easily lost track of.

I'm still a little torn about how I feel about this book, which will probably show in my rating. There were certain things that I loved, such as waking the ancestors and the trees and learning about Elanna's abilities, but I think the confusion over what was happening ruined it a little for me. As the world has been established now, I am wondering if I would enjoy the second book more, as hopefully there would be less info dumping. I am interested in the book enough to want to continue reading the series, but unfortunately it wasn't my favourite fantasy YA read.

The Waking Land is now available to purchase!

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