Book Review, Books

Summer’s End by Kristy Brown

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★★★

Summer’s End is a Young-Adult romance, with a fantasy twist – an interesting and unique book I didn’t expect to read.

First of all – let’s all take a minute to cherish the cover. It is so pink and shiny, and I admit it, it was the first thing that made me read this book. Gorgeous cover!!!

Summer wakes up in a hospital, but she doesn’t remember anything from her past. They tell her she was in a fire accident and barely survived. Before she is ready, she starts going to uni with her two best friends who are helping her remember the past. But when she gets near this one boy, she feels something she has felt before…

Dooney has been training his whole life to kill her when the time is right. She is dangerous and he knows this. He has been trying to locate her for a long time now. And when he finally knows where she is, she makes him feel other things than hatred.

A very quick-paced book with lots of dialogues and quick chapters. Summer’s End make me turn pages constantly, until I finally got to the end. It was very captivating.

The beginning was great, it lured me in instantly, getting me hooked to both character’s lives. However, I didn’t quite enjoy the romance between the two. It felt too fast, too pushed and over the top. This is because of all the repetitive scenes where Summer would faint when he is near and they would always feel each other’s presence. It just didn’t feel real to me.

Saying this though, the ending was amazing and the romance got a bit better at the very end.

Apart from a few plot holes and the romance, I did enjoy this book a lot. If you love YA, I do recommend that you check this book out!

Thank you to the author, Kristy Brown, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Books, interviews

Book Author Interview – Katie Lowe

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Hello All!

I have the pleasure to give to you an exclusive interview with KATIE LOWE, the author of The Furies, a book which I love and cherish!

Katie Lowe is a writer living in Worcester, UK. Her debut novel, The Furies has been published by Harperfiction (UK) this May. I have the pleasure to have this amazing short e-interview with Katie, while we discuss who she is, what inspired her to become an author and find out more about her first book.

Who is Katie Lowe?

Well, at the moment, first and foremost, I’m a novelist – spending almost all of my time working on my second book. I’m also about to start my PhD in literature – on the subject of female rage in literary modernism, and contemporary women’s writing – so I’d also say I’m an avid reader!

I live in Worcester, in a lovely little house with my sister, who’s an incredibly talented musician… So I consider myself to be a pretty lucky person, all things considered.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I think in one way or another it’s what I’ve always wanted to be – there’s a photo of on my eighth birthday in front of the typewriter I’d begged my parents for, because even back then, apparently, I took myself very seriously as a writer!

With that said, I always thought I’d write non-fiction – so for a long time, my great dream was to become an academic, or a journalist. It was only when my agent suggested I try my hand at fiction that I even considered I might be able to do it – and even then, I had to work at it for a good four or five years before I figured out how, exactly, fiction works… And that I could have a lot of fun doing it.

What particularly inspired you to write ‘’The Furies’’?


I knew I wanted to write a book about young women – particularly teenage girls – because I remember that period of my own life as being pretty emotionally intense, and full of potential. And the idea of witchcraft as a form of rebellion seemed to me too interesting not to write about. I find it a really powerful idea, personally, to have this history of (often forgotten) women who’ve positioned themselves as outsiders, even in the face of truly terrifying consequences… So I wanted The Furies to, in some way, explore that.

What message do you want to give to your readers through ‘’The Furies’’?

I don’t think there are any characters in the book that are particularly aspirational, or who’d serve in any way as role models – so I’m not sure it’s got an enormously positive message, in that respect. But what I’d love for it to do is to show that women – even, and especially, young women – have real agency, and power, and that they only have to believe in their own ability to harness it to make incredible things happen… Though whether that’s a good thing for the girls in this book, I’ll let your readers decide!

How do you deal with a writer’s block?

To be honest, I’ve never really found writer’s block to be a huge issue – partly because, up until quite literally the last month, I’ve always had to find time to write outside of work, using free minutes here and there… So each time I’ve sat down at my desk, I’ve been desperate to get going.

However, I’ve definitely found myself stuck on plot points, or other technical issues, while writing before – and for me, the best way to keep going is to go and do something else. So, for instance, if I’m stuck on how to move the plot forward, I’ll go back to another part of the book and focus on the description, the dialogue, or something else, and polish it up – and usually while I’m working on that, something will click with the bigger issue, so I can pick up where I left off.

What is the most challenging part when writing a book?


For me, it’s definitely plot. I so admire writers who can put together a really gripping, twisty plot – and it’s what I wanted to learn how to do with The Furies (though I’ll let you decide whether I’ve succeeded!) Writing flowery descriptions and spending time in character’s heads – that, for me, is all a joy – but the mechanics of getting a story from beginning to end in a way that’s believable, and yet unexpected… It’s definitely the biggest challenge, for me – and yet also the most satisfying thing to get right.

What kind of books do you want to read?


Given my PhD topic, this might be a fairly predictable answer – but I love books with complex, angry women – ideally who aren’t particularly likeable, either. I don’t know what that says about me, as a person, but… Here we are.

I also love books that give me an insight into a world, or a situation, that I know nothing about. I think there’s nothing better than closing the last page of a book and feeling like you truly experienced something you’d never have had the opportunity to, otherwise.

What was your favourite read in 2018?

A book that I absolutely adored – by which I mean, kept bringing up in conversation, without any context, and forcing it into the hands of almost-strangers – was Suicide Club by Rachel Heng. It’s an incredibly well-written book, with a brilliant premise – but it’s also deeply bittersweet, and asks a lot of questions about how, and why, we should want to live. I loved it.

Thank you for your time, Katie! It was a pleasure.

If you want to read my thoughts about The Furies, click here.

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Book Review, Books

The Devil’s Apprentice – Kenneth B. Andersen

 

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★★★★★

Possibly the best Young-Adult Fantasy I have read this year. Enter and discover Hell and see how it works, meet the Devil and learn why we need evil in order to be good! A fantastic story and great adventures await in Hell. Read this at your own risk!

I was lucky enough to receive the first two books of The Great Devil War Series by the author himself. I haven’t heard about Kenneth B. Andersen before, but after reading the synopsis, I knew I had to have these books – I knew I had to read the whole series. Starting with the Devil’s Apprentice. 

Meet Phillip – he is a good boy. An angel. He helps his mum with the chores, he helps his friends with their homework, he loves and takes care of animals, and he never lies. But one day, he is sent to Hell by mistake, and he has to become the Devil’s Apprentice. The Devil is ill and before he dies he has to make sure to teach Phillip the worst tricks in Hell’s history, and teach him to be evil – but Phillip is simply terrible at being bad and keeps failing all his tests.

With very little time left to teach Phillip everything, Phillip begins to make friends and enemies in this place. And on top of it all – someone might want the Devil’s throne for themselves…

I loved this book so much! The best thing about it is the setting. We enter a world and we get to see Hell through Phillip’s eyes. Everyone has their own place and role, there is a system of how they designate people and where they go – we meet Death and see the process of how he chooses who dies, and how they place people in either Heaven or Hell, depending on the actions people take throughout their lives, and also, how the Devil throws the dice as well.

Phillip is a typical boy, who goes to school, tries to be a good boy wherever he can. I loved Phillip’s character and could easily relate to him. When he gets in an unusual place, he begins to wonder, and discover and explore, and the way the author writes the scenes just keep you engaged in the book and you can’t put it down before you know what happens next.

The world in Hell is full of adventures, different creatures, lots of scenes where we can’t help but wonder what does ‘’EVIL’’ actually mean, and is it really true that we do need a little bit of evil in order to see the good in ourselves and others? Many moral messages are discovered through Phillip’s adventures, and I loved seeing him grow throughout the book. He keeps learning things and he kept growing. Do you really need to be evil to succeed in Hell?  

I am so glad I have read this book, and I can’t wait to read the second book. If you enjoy Young-Adult fantasy, and enjoyed Dante’s Inferno, this book will probably be something you might enjoy. It will make you giggle, make you wonder, and will leave you restless, page after page.

Until next time! x

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Book Review, Books

To Best the Boys – Mary Weber [BOOK REVIEW]

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Synopsis:

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. The poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women train in wifely duties and men pursue collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the deadly maze.

Welcome to the Labyrinth.

My Review:

★★

I love Mary Weber as much as her food recipes she shares with us every single month! I don’t usually decide whether to read a certain book by its cover, but this cover made me want to find out more about it. When I read the synopsis, I had to read it, as it captures women fighting for their rights in a young-adult format, and it simply was something I couldn’t miss.

I will be honest with you and say that this book didn’t deliver. Maybe it was my expectations, after all, that got me too excited for my own good.

Let’s start with Rhen. She is a girl that loves science, and her father has taught her everything he knows. They are poor family and don’t have all the equipment in the world, but that doesn’t stop them to keep discovering and learning every day. In their kingdom, an unknown disease comes around, and Rhen’s mum is ill, with no cure yet. Rhen wants desperately to find a cure, and a rich boy wanting to marry her might promise her all the equipment she needs, but now it’s time that she lacks.

When the men’s annual tournament is about to begin, with boys fighting for the science scholarship, Rhen knows that she has no choice but to enter, disguised as a boy, and try to win this – for her, for her dad, and most importantly, for her mum.

The book flows really slowly. We get to about half of the book when Rhen decides to enter the tournament. I expected this to happen in the first couple of chapters, and to then have the adventure from within the labyrinth. For me, it was quite a slow beginning, but some of you might enjoy that. The writing is beautiful throughout.

I loved the fighter within Rhen. She is a fierce person, determined to fight for what she wants. Even though throughout the book she has trouble with realising what is it that she really wants, we can see a bit of character development in her.

As a book that is supposed to cover gender equality, and women fighting for the same rights as men, this book didn’t really deliver. The letter states that every gentleperson – not gentleman. Which means, that inequality never truly exists at all. Women could have entered this competition, but they just chose not to.

The whole competition, the labyrinth and the scholarship lacks details and has enormous loopholes: one scholarship is given to one person – the one that wins the labyrinth. And after the winner is chosen, we have a scene where they all take a test, including the winner?

The disguise was a huge and important part of this book, as Rhen and her friend are pretending to be boys. Rhen cuts her hair, and her friend just pins it and ties it with a hat. They both wear boy clothes and barely remember to lower their voices. And that is all they do to not get recognised. And somehow, the people that know them their whole life fail to recognise them. A bit unbelievable…

I wish I loved this book, because I truly fell in love with the cover and the synopsis. But the whole labyrinth set-up seemed to be a side-story, with the illness being the main story, and the realisation of what Rhen actually wants to achieve. Random characters were introduced, that didn’t drive the story one bit, and the author also happened to throw in an inconsistent romance and a love triangle.

I hate to say this, but the book seems like an unfinished draft. It seemed so promising, and all I thought I would get out of this was non-existent.

I am not sure if I would want to recommend this book to you guys. If you want to give it a try, I encourage you, and would love to talk about it and hear what you think, but if you are here because you loved the synopsis, this book will probably not satisfy you.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Netgalley, for giving me a complimentary ARC e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Book Review, Books

Curses of Scale by S.D. Reeves [BOOK REVIEW]

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★★★

Book Description:

Sixteen-year-old Niena wants nothing more than to attend an elite bardic college, but when the dragon that shattered the empire awakens again she finds herself on the run, through the fey realm of Fairhome, to the city where she was born. On her trail are her army veteran grandfather, thrown into a commander’s role he doesn’t want, the lord of the fairies, trying to steer her to his own ends, and the husband she won’t meet for fifteen years. If she kills the dragon, she’ll save everyone she holds dear. But if she kills the dragon, she’s cursed instead to become it.

”Dreams starve and die if not fed by imagination.”

My thoughts:

A uniquely designed plot, intriguing and different. I was so excited to read this book. The cover was mesmerising and the synopsis was promising. It made me eager to start the book and I couldn’t wait to dive into this fantasy world.

The first couple of chapters were very slow for me. I had to re-read chapters twice, and I didn’t quite understand what is happening. After a while, things became clearer, and I started to enjoy the story a bit more.

I loved Niena’s character. She was a typical being, where one part gasps with bravery, and the rest gasps with fear. I loved how realistic she was at moments, knowing to be scared when supposed to, and fierce when needed of her.

The story gasps with a lot of intense scenes, full of adventures, that I am sure you will all love and appreciate. From trying to fight a dragon, to running away, to the amazing plot twist right at the very end, this book made me restless, after I started enjoying it.

The only reason I am taking two stars away is because I had to read the first 60-ish pages two-three times, until I finally dived in and started enjoying the story.

”A fairy bargain can live no deeper than your lips, it always dies before reaching the heart.”

A beautiful tale, full of magic, adventure and time travel. And a cover that suits it so well.

If you seem to like these types of books – don’t wait and grab your copy now:

Thank you to the author, S.D. Reeves , for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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