Sunday 20 October 2013

Review: The Woken Gods

Title: The Woken Gods
Author: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Released: 3rd September 2013
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

With promises of Egyptian mythology and sudden disappearances, the wait for this book was a difficult one.  I find mythology in general to be a fascinating thing, and that combined with plot elements and characters would make this a wonderful read...Which was why, by the end of this, I was even more disappointed.

Gods, the Society of the Sun, relics...these are features of the new Washington, D.C.  Features that are a part of Kyra's world, but that she has no direct experience of until she's approached by two tricksters one day after school.  That one encounter marks the start of a new life, one that consists of searching for her father and the relic he stole, working with Society operatives and actively getting involved with the gods.  The consequences of not finding her father and getting that relic back don't bear thinking about.

My difficulties with this novel began almost as soon as I started.  To begin with, I wasn't sure if it was the book itself or simply me, but as I progressed further I realised these problems weren't going away.  That's not to say it still isn't me; I have been known to hold black sheep status on several occasions, after all.  But one of the big issues for me was the world-building.  For something so central to her plot, Bond's world-building was unfortunately lacking.  While there were numerous mythological gods, their presence for the most part felt static; I didn't get a sense of who they were individually, nor did I understand their relations with Kyra's society.  This confusion then fed into my reaction to the actual plotline.  That in itself was not particularly impressive, either.

Added to this was the fact that a lot of it seemed flat.  To give credit where credit is due, and aware as I am of how critical this review has become, there were scenes and sections that Bond wrote quite well, actually enabling me to connect with what I was reading; passages that stood out and had me sitting up with renewed interest.  Sadly, though, this wasn't enough for me to truly enjoy it.  My feelings toward Kyra were non-existent.  I didn't love her, hate her, or anything in between.  I thought Oz sweet enough, Ezra intriguing enough, but ultimately the line separating them from everyone else was very thin.  The interactions between the characters, too, felt flat and awkward, as did the different POVs.  It was just quite jumpy and ill-flowing, and it all left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied.

For all my criticisms, The Woken Gods wasn't unbearably bad.  There were parts well-written, and it was engaging to a point.  I can't deny, however, that I did not get on with this novel, and that I am disappointed given the amount of potential it has.  Other people have had better luck than I (including my awesome reading buddy and blogging friend, Rebekah at Reflections of a Bookworm), so do go and see what they have to say.  For my part, I won't be revisiting this world anytime soon, unfortunately.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Strange Chemistry Cover Reveals!

Guysguysguys!  Look at all the pretty that Strange Chem have released into the world! *drools*  I shared The Almost Girl with you before, and I'll put it up again because honestly, it looks awesome...And the cover for Shadowplay is finally out!  Eeeep!  I leave them, and others, here so you can also drool and stare and wish desperately you were holding them in your hands.

The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

For readers of Beth Revis and Patrick Ness this is an SF novel that can’t be missed.
17 year-old Riven comes from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, a parallel world to Earth. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory. Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier and in a race against time to bring Caden home, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?
(Pantomime #2)
For all fans of Robin Hobb and Tamora Pierce, this extraordinary crossover fantasy features a truly unique central character.
The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes. He and the White Clown, Drystan, have taken refuge in the decaying Kymri Theatre, home to the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. Though no longer a circus performer, Micah must still conduct a balancing act between his past and his future, while both avoiding the renewed and embittered rivalry of the magicians of Ellada, and the Policiers who are convinced Micah played a part in the death of his old Ringmaster.
A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.
(Emilie #2) 
A Girl’s Own Adventure in the spirit of Jules Verne 
When Emilie and Daniel arrive in Silk Harbor, Professor Abindon, an old colleague of the Marlendes, warns them that she's observed something strange and potentially deadly in the sky, a disruption in an upper air aether current.  But as the Marlendes investigate further, they realize it's a ship from another aetheric plane.  It may be just a friendly explorer, or something far more sinister, but they will have to take an airship into the dangerous air currents to find out.  Emilie joins the expedition and finds herself deep in personal entanglements, with an angry uncle, an interfering brother, and an estranged mother to worry about as well as a lost family of explorers, the strange landscapes of the upper air, and the deadly menace that inhabits the sky world.
(Zenn Scarlett #2)
Zenn Scarlett’s novice year of exoveterinarian training on Mars isn’t quite going to plan…
After facing a plot to destroy her school and its menagerie of alien patients, could things get worse? Yes, they could: her absent father has been kidnapped.

Desperate to find him, Zenn stows away aboard the Helen of Troy, a starliner powered by one of the immense, dimension-jumping beasts known as Indra. With her is Liam Tucker, a Martian boy who is either very fond of her, very dangerous to her, or both. On the verge of learning the truth about her father, Zenn’s quest suddenly catapults her and Liam thousands of light years beyond known space, and into the dark heart of a monstrous conspiracy.

Braving a gauntlet of lethal environments and unearthly life forms, Zenn’s courage is tested as never before. With the fate of entire worlds in the balance, she is racing headlong into trouble... again.
In contemporary New York, a swan girl must help her enemy destroy her best friend or risk being sold to the black market.
When Deanna’s missing friend Hyde turns up at his father’s funeral to claim his corporate empire and inheritance, she is swept into his glittering world of paparazzi and wealth.

But Deanna has a secret - and somebody knows. Someone who is out to get Hyde. And if she doesn’t play along, and help the enemy take Hyde down…she will be sold to the highest bidder in the black market for human swans.

Now Deanna is struggling to break free from the gilded cage that would trap her forever…

Saturday 5 October 2013

Review: The Bone Season

Title: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Released: 20th August 2013
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to my obnoxiously frustrating mood lately, it took me far longer than it should have done to read The Bone Season.  Through no fault of its own, three chapters in it was ungratefully cast aside so my restless mind could settle on other things - other books - until I actually forced myself to go back to it.  This time I pushed through; finally my mind calmed and I was able to lose myself in what is an undoubtedly exceptional read.

We find ourselves first in the heart of London, where the Seven Seals reside.  In a world where clairvoyance is illegal, this syndicate must ensure they keep their abilities secret.  Paige Mahoney in particular is a rare type of clairvoyant; she is a dreamwalker, with the ability to break into and explore the minds of others.  The last thing she needs is for the Scion to find out, the ruling force and the reason behind the sudden disappearance of so many clairvoyants.  But then she's caught, and she finds herself in the voyant prison in Oxford.  Except here there are creatures even worse than the Scion: the Rephaim.  To them, clairvoyants are good for something: fighting.  Unknown to the rest of the world, there is a war going on, and the Rephaim see the clairvoyants as soldiers.  Paige subsequently finds herself without any freedom.  She has a Master, Warden, and if she wants to survive she'll have to take care.  But at the same time she has no plans to stop fighting for her freedom, and doing so will meaning learning more about this man who seems to have many secrets of his own.

Of course one of the most significant achievements of Shannon here is the absolutely incredible world building.  I loved the alternative version of London she presented, the idea of Oxford being this ancient, barely acknowledged place and shrouded in mystery.  There is a lot of variety to be found here.  We have the term 'clairvoyant', yes, but there are so many kinds; this is a world truly thought out.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a glossary at the back (I was reading it on Kindle), so it was somewhat confusing at first.  Admittedly trying to take in everything is a bit of a task, since there's just so much.  After a while, though, I was used to it and everything was starting to make sense.  The mix of both old and new, familiar and unfamiliar, was done in a manner entirely appealing.  There is also a level of complexity and suspense that made this book all the more delicious.

Paige, our heroine, was a character easy to appreciate.  She's a strong, independent person, and realistically so.  Her voice is such that it doesn't just recede into a background hum with loads of other protagonists; it stands out and becomes something familiar, something welcoming, something you want to hear more of.  Warden, too, is someone I found impossible not to like - except there is an extra layer of complexity to him that leaves me eager to know even more.  My trust of him was a slow thing; naturally, I was intrigued from the start, but Shannon draws you in, pulls you along slowly so that you're as wary as Paige.  There are so many aspects to him, some of these simply hinted at, so that while the reader is offered a good impression of who he is, it is still too vague.  I mean this in an entirely positive sense.  The romance, which was gloriously slow, still allowed for two separate individuals, each with their own distinct personality.  The dynamics changed constantly, and each of the characters, and their relationship, were all written masterfully.

All in all, Samantha Shannon has come out with an excellent debut.  With her truly astonishing world building and vivid characters, this is an author you don't want to miss, and her book leaves me itching for more.

Friday 4 October 2013

Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Almost Girl

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.

Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

Amazon † BN

We’re at an impasse, staring at each other with stubborn fury. I’m not above using force to get my way but Shae’s just taken out two Vectors. Alone. I’m not about to make any rash and stupid decisions about her combat skills or apparent exhaustion. The silence hangs between us like an impenetrable wall as we stare at each other across the five feet that could well be an abyss between us. After a few tense minutes, Shae clears her throat.

“Do you remember that day? When I left?” Shae asks and I give the barest of nods. It’s a day that etched into my memory so deeply that I couldn’t forget it if I tried. “I wanted to take you with me but you wouldn’t go,” she says. Her laugh is empty. “You remember what you called me?”


She doesn’t have to say it; we both know what I said.

“That was the day I realized that you were your father’s daughter. He robbed you of anything close to love,” Shae says. “You chose to stay with him out of fear for him than out of love for me. He owned you then, and he owns you now.”

“I am nothing like him,” I grit out. “No one owns me.”

“He used to say that I could never be a killer because I was too emotional. Said I loved too much. How can someone love too much? He said I was too much like mom. Soft. I proved him wrong even though I died a little bit inside every time I took a life.” At Shae’s words, my eyes feel like there’s sand behind them, and a boulder settles in the pit of my stomach. “But he was right about you, wasn’t he? The stone cold sister? The one who wouldn’t be torn by emotion, the one who kills without feeling a thing? Servant to the monarchy… obeying orders without question… He’s made you into their killing machine. So what? You’re going to kill me now, Riven?”

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Seventeen Magazine Summer Club author Amalie Howard grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children.

She is the author of The Aquarathi series from Harlequin TEEN (Waterfell and Oceanborn), The Almost Girl from Strange Chemistry, Alpha Goddess from Sky Pony Press, and Bloodspell from Langdon Street Press. She is represented by the Liza Royce Agency. Visit her at www.amaliehoward.comor on Twitter (@AmalieHoward).

Website † Twitter † Facebook † GoodReads

Other books by Amalie Howard

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Cover Reveal: Defector

 Title: Defector (Variants #2)
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Publisher: Razorbill
Released: 26th June 2014
 Synopsis currently unavailable
Title: Impostor (Variants #1)
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Publisher: Razorbill
Released: 28th May 2013

Can Tessa pose as Madison . . . and stop a killer before it’s too late? 

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again.

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Susanne Winnacker studied law before she became a full-time writer. She lives with her husband, a dog and three bunnies in Germany. She loves coffee (in every shape and form), traveling and animals.  When she isn't writing, you can usually find her in the kitchen, experimenting with new vegan dishes.  Her YA thriller IMPOSTOR will be published on May 28, 2013. It has been optioned for TV by Warner Brothers!