Review: Spare and Found Parts

February 5, 2018 in Book Reviews, Dystopian, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Spare and Found Parts Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
Published by Titan on 6th February 2018
Genres: YA Fantasy, Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

I received a sampler of Spare and Found Parts a few months ago and must admit I was very intrigued, so I was delighted when Titan Books sent across a finished copy.

Spare and Found Parts is the story of Nell, a teenager living with her father in a post-apocalyptic version of Dublin. A century before, the ‘Turn’ happened, a great sickness that claimed many lives with computers being the source (somehow, I was never entirely clear how). The result is a world where many of the population are missing limbs, eyes – or in the case of Nell herself, a heart.

There are three rules in this post-Turn world

  1. The sick in the Pale, the healed in the Pasture.
  2. Contribute, at all cost.
  3. All code is blasphemy.

It’s a world where even to utter the word “computer” is rebellion.

Nell is approaching the age where she must make her contribution to society. It seems everyone around her has their ideas and talents honed. Her own father is one of the most revered men in the city having created artificial limbs. Her late mother’s contribution is forever in sight, a giant stonework woman. So needless to say, Nell feels the pressure to live up to her parents. In fact, she’d love to surpass them.

Nell is different from those around her. Her heart is clockwork – created and installed by her father. Her life is accompanied by a constant audible ticking, seemingly counting down the days to her contribution.

When Nell finds a mannequin hand washed up on the shore – one of the many relics from before the Turn – she starts to dream of a man more like her. So, she decides to build him.

The start of this book is fairly slow-paced. It’s quite a while before Nell decides to build her creation. However, we do glean a picture of Nell and her introverted personality – so at odds with her best friend Ruby. We’re also introduced to Oliver Kelly who wants nothing more than for Nell to love him.

Ordinarily, I might have found this beginning a bit too slow but actually I was just enjoying Griffin’s writing so much I didn’t mind!

I’m not going to lie; this is a bit of an odd book and consequently, it won’t be for everyone. However, it’s a book that had me intrigued from the very first page.

Nell is certainly an interesting character. I didn’t ever feel completely comfortable with her – but I guess that’s the point eh? Plus I did love Kodak, her stoat. I really liked her friendship with Ruby and her interactions with Oliver made me chuckle.

My favourite character by far though was Nell’s creation, Io. I enjoyed the chapters written from his perspective – the sole android in a world of computer-fearing humans.

I’m still left kind of baffled as to what actually happened at the Turn. I assume that this is on purpose and isn’t just me! I like answers though and I feel I’m lacking them. Also, the Pasture is very vague to me.

For all that the start was slow-paced, I did feel that the end was somewhat fast, abrupt even. I’d have liked more.

All in all, I enjoyed this novel, different as it was. Griffin writes beautifully and I can’t wait to see what she brings us next.

four-stars

Review: Dark Immolation

June 23, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Dark Immolation Dark Immolation by Christopher Husberg
Series: The Chaos Queen
Published by Titan on 20th June 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

There are rumours in Ashta - a new religion is rising, and Cinzia, one-time Cantic priestess, has escaped the Holy Crucible. Fleeing from Navone, Cinzia travels with Knot, a man of many parts, and Astrid, the child-like vampire. They are gathering followers, but the murderous Nazaniin are still on their trail. Meanwhile, Winter is losing her grip on sanity, grappling with immense powers beyond her understanding. Where she goes, chaos and death follow.

Dark Immolation, the second book in The Chaos Queen quintet, is a title I’ve been looking forward to all year. Last June I had the pleasure of reviewing book one, Duskfall (you can find my thoughts here) and this debut novel impressed me so much I couldn’t wait to revisit the world and its characters.

Dark Immolation continues where Duskfall left off. While we get answers to many questions in this book there’s still plenty to keep us wondering!

The characters in this book are what really makes it for me, and Husberg flawlessly glides from the POV of one character to another. Knot and Astrid are as brilliant as ever – I’d love to hang out with those two!

Sometimes the second book in a series can feel a bit of a letdown but I absolutely did not feel that with Dark Immolation. I enjoyed the continuation of our characters’ adventures as well as some glimpses into the past and the Void.

This is a series that I’m so glad I picked up. I can’t wait to see what Husberg has in store for us in book three!

four-half-stars

Blog Tour: If We Were Villains

June 15, 2017 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: If We Were Villains If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Published by Titan on 13th June 2017
Genres: thriller, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago.

As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else's story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.

When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the If We Were Villains blog tour. If you’ve missed the other stops on the tour so far you can find them all at the bottom of this post.

Dellecher Classical Conservatory is an elite art school that is home to Oliver and his six friends; all of whom are in their fourth and final year as theatre students and scholars of Shakespeare. They live, study, act and socialise with one another – their own Shakespeare-loving family.

When we meet Oliver it’s ten years later and he’s just getting out of prison where he has served time for the murder of one of these close friends. He has finally agreed to tell the lead detective the whole, true story.

The novel is structured through Acts and Scenes which tell the story of life at the school, with Preludes that focus on the now and Oliver’s release from prison. I loved this structure, in a book filled with drama, theatrics and plays it fits the theme perfectly.

Now, I studied Shakespeare in school but that was quite some time ago – and even then I’m familiar with only a few of his plays. I was slightly concerned that my ignorance might mean that I wouldn’t enjoy this novel; however I actually enjoyed it very much. I would say though that those more acquainted with Shakespeare or even with theatre as a whole would no doubt enjoy it more.

Our seven characters (I was rather confused at first with all of the names, but I soon caught on) are actors; throughout the year they adopt Shakespearean roles for a variety of plays. Indeed they even converse among one another in quotes at times. However, as the school year progresses it seems that many of the seven are struggling to leave their Shakespearean roles behind, and the line between fiction and reality becomes increasingly blurred.

This is not your typical thriller. Yes, it’s thrilling and gripping but it’s far more than that. Rio weaves her story in conjunction with Shakespearean verse. Indeed she often echoes her characters’ mindsets and actions though their study of The Bard. At first, I’ll admit I struggled a little with this style, but it’s executed so well that I soon became accustomed to the interspersions of verse.

Rio not only expertly combines Shakespeare into her narrative, but also displays her own beautiful writing.

This is quite a rollercoaster read – love, betrayal, envy, passion, friendships, this book has it all – just like the Shakespearean works it echoes.

If We Were Villains Blog Tour

three-half-stars

Mini Review: A Conjuring Of Light

February 20, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mini Review: A Conjuring Of Light A Conjuring of Light by V.E.Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #3
Published by Titan on 21st February 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

London's fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.

One of my most-anticipated reads of the year, I started A Conjuring of Light knowing that Schwab would deliver – and wow, did she ever!

This post is going to be short. There will be no spoilers. Just know that ACOL was everything I had hoped it would be – and more!

There’s snarkiness, action, banter, affection, fear, fearlessness and, well, knives, obviously.

It made me snort with laughter, threaten to put the book in the freezer, read furiously, grip the pages, and generally unable to put it down!

Schwab’s writing and storytelling is, once more, outstanding. I want to go back and read it again, just to savour the beauty.

If you haven’t read this series yet, stop whatever you are doing and start it – it’s SPECTACULAR!

five-stars

Review: Wintersong

February 7, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Wintersong Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Published by Titan on 7th February 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They've enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now aged eighteen and helping to run her family's inn, Liesl can't help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

In the stories her grandmother told her as a child, on the last night of the year the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride. Now as the days of winter begin to draw close Liesl's sister disappears...

With little choice Liesl finds herself drawn into the strange, captivating world of the Underground and the mysterious man who rules it. When she was young Liesl always wanted to dance with the Goblin King, now as she finds herself at the heart of his court she must face up to an impossible decision to save herself or her sister. With time and the old laws working against her she must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

In writing Wintersong, Jae-Jones has taken inspiration from 19th-century German fairytales to create a dark, captivating tale that will remain with you long after you close the back page.

I tried to write a summary of this book, but nothing I could write felt like it captured the story. So instead, here are a few key words…

wintersong

Going into this, I didn’t know any more than the synopsis and a comparison with the 80s’ film Labyrinth. If anything, this just added to the mysterious, magical feel of the book.

The writing in this novel is beautiful. It reinforces the unique, enchanted setting and encaptures the fairytale-like nature of this book.

I enjoyed the role that music has to play in this novel. It’s right at its core, the continuous thread that traverses two worlds. The beauty of the music is echoed through the poetic writing.

As for the characters, while I liked Liesl well enough, it was the Goblin King who kept me reading – a complex character who slowly begins to reveal his true self.

It’s a dark, enchanted journey, but I must admit that there were a few points where I found myself a little bored – perhaps I just wasn’t quite in the right mindset for a slow tale?

Regardless, this is a tale steeped in folklore, with mystery, magic and romance aplenty, all packed up within a memorable setting and carefully crafted prose.

Titan are giving away TWENTY copies of Wintersong over on Goodreads right now, so if you are in the UK be sure to enter.

Finally, pop back on Friday (10th) for our stop on the Wintersong blog tour and an exclusive post from S. Jae-Jones herself! In the meantime, don’t miss the other stops on the tour!

WINTERSONG blog tour

 

three-half-stars