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Thursday, 12 December 2019

Review: Harry Potter Crochet (Crochet Kits) by Lucy Collin


Harry Potter Crochet (Crochet Kits)
by Lucy Collin
Release Date: 27th November, 2019
Genre: Hobbies and Crafts 
Publishers: Thunder Bay Press
Source: For Review
Amazon: Buy from Amazon
 
Create your own magic with this Harry Potter crochet kit!

Create your own magic and conjure up these adorable figures of "the boy who lived" and his friends. All the spells you need to make amigurumi dolls of Harry Potter and Dobby are included: yarn, stuffing, needle and thread, safety eye beads, and the special magic wand crochet hook! A 76-page instruction book gives step-by-step directions to make ten more magical models, and the full-color photos will ensure your projects turn out completely enchanting.

The Review: I will admit before starting this review that I haven’t yet had the chance to start the Harry design. When being asked to review this set, I was completely thrilled because it’s something completely different and it’s also something I can get my daughter involved in especially being a big Harry Potter fan and we are hoping to give it a start over the holidays. 

As soon as it arrived we took everything out had a good look at everything that was included. You have all the tools to help you make little Harry and Dobby. Different coloured wool are included as well as a plastic hook (although a metal hook may be easier to handle). There is also a step by step guide book which is so useful with full descriptions and photos to help guide you throughout. For anyone who is learning this really is a helpful and descriptive present and a good way to start learning. It’s also really affordable to buy and the presentation of the complete box is wonderful as well. Harry and Dobby is included in this pack but you also have designs for many more characters which is fantastic. All you need to do is supply the wool. 

If you are looking for a good present for a child or adult who would like to learn how to crochet then this is a great way to start. Even for someone with experience as well will have fun with these designs, especially if they are Harry Potter fans as it will provide someone with many hours of fun. 

Thank you to Thunder Bay Press for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 


                                                                        Rating: Really Liked It - 4 Flowers 

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Blog Tour: Guest Post by Author Natalie Hibberd; Inside Out


Inside Out 
by Natalie Hibberd
Release Date: November 30th, 2019
Publishers: Matador
Genre: YA, Dystopia 
Pages: 192
Amazon: Purchase
 
In a divisive world of mistrust and murder, there's only one thing that matters growing up: you're either in The Inside or The Outside.

While the Insiders appear pampered and privileged, the Outsiders know only harsh realities. Believing themselves to be needlessly deprived of everything the Insiders have, the younger generation channel their rage into a terrorist group called The Freedom Fighters, a group intent on overthrowing the Inside at any cost. Now the Insiders must watch as the world they love collapses around them while the government resort to increasingly desperate tactics to try and contain the Outside threat. When the latest initiative catapults one of the young into the heart of the war, everything is pushed to breaking point.

Loyalties will be tested. Lives will be risked. Their worlds will change forever.

My Top 5 YA Books
It’s so hard to narrow down my favourite YA books, as this is a genre teaming with wonderful and inventive voices. My ‘favourite’ books fluctuate all the time but here - in no particular order - are some fantastic reads that have stuck in my head (and my heart): 

Only Ever Yours (Louise O’Neill)  
22913648Set in a world where women are artificially grown and brainwashed by the state to believe that their only purpose is to serve the needs of men, this book was so acerbic it actually made me wince. Unlike most dystopian heroines, O’Neill’s Freida is not a defiant ‘chosen one’, but a girl who is abused, repressed and indoctrinated just as much as her fellow ‘eves.’ Never have I been introduced to a protagonist whose behaviour made me veer so dramatically between pity, empathy and frustration. Fiercely feminist and not for the fainthearted – this novel is not to be missed. 

The Declaration (Gemma Malley) 
Another haunting dystopia, The Declaration takes place in a world where, as a result of humans becoming immortal, almost all children are illegal. Known as ‘Surpluses’ these children are stolen from their parents and raised in prisonlike ‘Surplus Halls’ to atone for the sin of their existence by serving the legal population. I have poured over this intricate, multi-layered masterpiece so many times that my original copy has literally fallen to pieces. I come back to The Declaration again and again – and every single time something new leaps out at me from these disintegrating pages. 

17451795. sy475 Every Day (David Leviathan) 
Reading this book is like sitting in an orchestral pit, with Leviathan’s melodic prose leading you through the life of protagonist A – a soul that spends every day in the body of a different person – in this emotional rollercoaster of a novel. Although the central romance is utterly swoon-worthy, the thing that makes this book so remarkable is the diversity and inclusivity which powers the story like a beating heart. In this world, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ (a central theme of Inside Out.) There are just people and that is vitally important. 

Noughts and Crosses (Malorie Blackman) 
This romantic, gritty and devastating story was the first ever YA book I read (nine years ago as part of my secondary school English class) and I have been wedded to the genre ever since. Like Inside Out, this is a book that discusses the colossal damage that can be done to our fellow human beings by the rampant application of labels. So moved was I by the plight of star-crossed lovers Sephy and Callum that I accidentally spoiled the ending for my twin sister Lorna – something about which I still feel guilty.  

Meat Market (Juno Dawson)  
Part social realism, part twisted fairy tale, the story of teenage supermodel Jana had me gripped from the first page. This book contains all the things that make me angry (sexism, dishonesty and damaging, arbitrary labels) but still somehow left me feeling hopeful. An essential read for the #MeToo era. 

About the author:
Natalie Hibberd was born in Portsmouth and has wanted to be an author since she was two years old. She is publishing her debut novel Inside Out, independently with Matador, aged 21. Natalie was born with cerebral palsy. When she isn’t writing and reading, she enjoys singing, amateur dramatics and listening to podcasts. Natalie lives in Petersfield, Hampshire, with her parents and her assistance dog, Cleo. 

Follow Natalie on Twitter @NatalieHibberd 

Inside Out is available in paperback and e-book on 30 November. 

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Review: Storm Born (Mortal Enchantment #1) By Stacey O'Neale


20740634. sy475 Storm Born (Mortal Enchantment #1)
By Stacey O'Neale 
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Publishers: Phoenix Reign Publishing
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 230
Goodreads: Add to TBR
 
Book #1 in the award-winning YA fantasy series Mortal Enchantment. Discover a world of elemental powers, courage, duty, sacrifice, forbidden romance and a war for the very elements of life.

Kalin Matthew's never had a choice. An unbreakable contract decided her destiny at birth. Live in the mortal world with her mother until the stroke of midnight on her sixteenth birthday, then leave the only life she's ever known and move to Avalon, the land of Arthurian myth and legend, to rule at her father's side, the king of the air court.

But before she enters his powerful and dangerous world, she's attacked by a fire court assassin and saved by Rowan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring.

Not long after, she learns her father is missing. Now she must take over his duties, which include shifting control of the elements -- a power she has yet to harness. As Rowan attempts to train her, war looms between the four courts. If she fails, her father will die, and the courts will fall, but the betrayal she's about to uncover may cost her even more.

The Review: After first being introduced to the Mortal Enchantment series with The Shadow Prince novella, I’ve always wanted to dive back into this world and read the first book in the series Storm Born, which follows Kalin Matthew, a princess who has been living in the mortal world until the night of sixteenth birthday where she is to return to Avalon – a world full of elementals. But upon her arrival in Avalon, her father the King of the Air is missing and Kalin has no choice but to take over his duties while trying to learn how to harness her elemental powers because war is coming and somehow Kalin is in at the very centre of it.  

Storm Born is a fantastic start to a very promising series and if you’re fans of fast paced stories with forbidden romances, plenty of magic and fierce characters, then this is definitely one to read. Once I started reading it was definitely hard to put down. 

I really liked Kalin from the start. She’s strong-willed and faces things head on – which is rare in YA stories. Although she can be vulnerable at times – mainly towards the start of the story but by the end of the book, she has more than found her path and is dedicated to do whatever she needs in order to grow stronger, protect her father and her kingdom. 

Of course it was lovely to see Rowan again which was like reuniting with a friend who you haven’t seen for ages. He will always be a favourite character from this series because of his willingness to do whatever it takes to protect the kingdoms either it means turning against his own. I was glad Kalin could rely on him and had his protection. 

I’m definitely eager to see what happens next in the series and hopefully I’ll find time to read them soon!

Thank you to Stacey O’Neale for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

                                                                        Rating: Really Liked It - 4 Flowers 

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Blog Tour: The Sky Weaver (Iskari #3) by Kristen Ciccarelli

45149353. sy475 The Sky Weaver (Iskari #3) by Kristen Ciccarelli
Release Date: November 12th, 2019
Publishers: Gollancz
Genre: YA, Fantasy 
Source: For Review
Pages: 400
Goodreads: Add to TBR
 
Lavish, romantic and magical, The Sky Weaver is a new standalone story set in the world of The Last Namsara - one that fans of Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black and Laini Taylor will flock to. 

At the end of one world, there always lies another.

Safire, a soldier, knows her role in this world is to serve the King of Firgaard-helping to maintain the peace in her oft-troubled nation.

Eris, a deadly pirate, has no such conviction. Known as The Death Dancer for her ability to evade even the most determined of pursuers, she possesses a superhuman ability to move between worlds.

When one can roam from dimension to dimension, can one ever be home? Can love and loyalty truly exist?

Then Safire and Eris-sworn enemies-find themselves on a common mission: to find Asha, the last Namsara.

From the port city of Darmoor to the fabled faraway Sky Isles, their search and their stories become threaded ever more tightly together as they discover the uncertain fate they're hurtling towards may just be a shared one. In this world, and the next.

The Review: There are no words for how amazing the Iskari series is! The Last Namsara and The Caged Queen were two of my favourite reads from last year so I have been dying to get my hands on the finale, The Sky Weaver. And as much as I have been dying to read it, turning the very last page in this book was such a bittersweet moment because I am so not ready to say goodbye to these characters and captivating storytelling. 

The Sky Weaver tells Safire and Eris’s story – one being the Commandant to the King of Firgaard and the other, a deadly pirate and thief. Two of the most unlikely of characters to be thrown together on the same journey: finding Asha, the last Namsara who is being sort out by dangerous criminals. But not everything is as it seems as Safire and Eris begin to unravel of huge web of lies with some very startling revelations. 

The book is told from both character’s points of view and chapters telling the back story. This is such a fantastic way of telling a story, where both past and present are so important to the storyline. The different chapters helped me to separate the past and present so they didn’t get lost in the other story being told. And while the focus of this book was on Safire and Eris, their story was connected to the other character’s stories and we were able to see how their stories ended.   

I’ve always liked Safire so having her as the main character this time around just made me like her even more. She is such a strong and honourable character that it’s hard not to like her. Eris is a new character altogether and her story brought many unlikable characters with it, but she was a really likable and relatable character. The romance between the two was very sweet as well and I couldn’t help rooting for them. And Sorrow was such a perfect addition to Safire’s story! 

In all, I am very sad to see this series go because Kristen Ciccarelli’s spellbinding and powerful writing is truly magical to read but I am also very eager to see what she comes up with next. 

Thank you to  Gollancz for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 


                                                                        Rating: Really Liked It - 4 Flowers 

Friday, 8 November 2019

Blog Tour: The Shadow Prince (A Mortal Enchantment Novella) by Stacey O'Neale


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The Shadow Prince (A Mortal Enchantment Novella)
By Stacey O'Neale 
Release Date: March 25th 2014
Publishers: Phoenix Reign Publishing
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 100
Goodreads: Add to TBR
 
Prequel novella to the award-winning YA fantasy series Mortal Enchantment. Discover a world of elemental powers, courage, duty, sacrifice, forbidden romance and a war for the very elements of life.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan is an elemental prince. Banished to the mortal world, he doubts he will ever return to Avalon and claim the fire court throne. Until he receives a challenge from his estranged mother. If he slays Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental, princess of the air court, she will abdicate her throne. Is he capable of completing such a heinous task? And what price will he pay if he refuses?

Perfect for fans of Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.

"Filled with betrayal and intrigue, The Shadow Prince is a dark and twisty novella from an exciting new author!" Katee Robert, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

The ReviewFast paced, intriguing and enchanting, Stacey O’Neal’s introduction to her new series, Mortal Enchantment was definitely right up my street.

The Shadow Prince follows Rowan, the son of the fire court Queen. Rowan has spent most of his life living amongst mortals, while trying to learn to control his fire element. Rowan’s never been shown any love from his mother, who believes love is a weakness, but when she announces she will be stepping down from her throne and he she wants Rowan to take her place, he’s more than surprised. However he knows his mother and he knows she will not give up her throne without wanting something in return. She wants Rowan to kill, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king. But can Rowan complete a task that goes against everything he believes in?

I really enjoyed this prequel novella. At only 100 pages, it’s short, but definitely leaves you wanting more. I thought it was a great introduction, to which I believe will be a very promising series by a talented debut author and this novella gives you a lot of insight on what’s to come. 

I really liked Rowan. I found him honest, loyal and very open. I enjoyed the whole set up of the courts and found myself enthralled by them. It kind of reminded me of how I was when I first read Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. 

In all, Stacey O’Neal has proven this series has a lot of potential with The Shadow Prince and I can’t wait to read more in Mortal Enchantment.


                                                                        Rating: Really Liked It - 4 Flowers 

Monday, 7 October 2019

Review: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renée Ahdieh

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The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)
By Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: October 8th, 2019
Publishers: Hodder Books
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Source: For Review
Pages: 448
Goodreads: Add to TBR
 
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

The Review: Anyone who knows me knows that my love for reading first came from reading paranormal books.  Over the years, my reading tastes have changed and while I do now favour fantasy books over all others now, I’ve never forgotten about paranormal stories. It’s honestly been so long since I’ve read a good vampire story until I read The Beautiful which if I may say, may even be my favourite read of the year. 

Set in 1872, the story follows seventeen year old Celine Rousseau who moves to New Orleans after fleeing from her home in Paris following a terrifying encounter. It’s in New Orleans Celine wishes to start to a new life for herself where she can try and make a name for herself a dressmakers. But it’s not long after her arrival that Celine gets tangled up with the La Cour des Lions after catching the eye Sebastien Saint Germain, the leader of the group. La Cour des Lions is a dark and mysterious place that Celine cannot help become intrigued by. It’s there one night that a girl is murdered and all signs point to Sebastien, however New Orleans’s streets are full of terrible and dangerous creatures.

This book is phenomenal and so unputdownable. The world that Renee Ahdieh has created is captivating and enthralling. The plot was very original and although a little slow at times, I was still hooked and didn’t want to put it down. I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans and the author describes the city beautifully, it’s made me want to visit even more. I honestly felt like I was walking the streets while Mardi Gras was happening. 

The characters are unforgettable and very likeable. I love that Celine is such a strong character, one that definitely stays true to self and one that could be a role model. Bastien is mysterious and dark and really enjoyed getting to know the real him. The romance between Celine and Bastien is a slow burn but one full of tension which I absolutely loved. 

There are plenty of secondary characters for you to fall in love with as well. And while I’m still trying to figure some out, I cannot wait to see how the story goes for these characters. And the vampires are something else. It’s definitely unique and something I’m very intrigued to read more about. 

I honestly just want more of everything. This book was over way to quickly and I really wish I had taken my time with it because it was a fantastic read and one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. 

Thank you to Hodder Books for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review. 

                                                                                    Rating: 5 Flowers - Amazing

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Blog Tour: The Wrong of Side Kai by Estelle Maskame

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The Wrong Side of Kai
By Estelle Maskame 
Release Date: September 19th, 2019
Publishers: Ink Road
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Goodreads: Add to TBR
 
Vanessa Murphy doesn't do relationships.

With a father who doesn't notice her, it's easy for her to sneak around with her latest fling, Harrison Boyd. But when an explicit video of Vanessa hooking up with Harrison is leaked the morning after she ends things with him, her life is thrown into chaos.

And Vanessa wants payback. Enter Kai. With his own vendetta against Harrison, Kai proposes revenge, and the two pair up to ruin Harrison Boyd's life. At first, they are nothing more than an illicit partnership. Teammates working towards the same mission.

But – between late-night stakeouts and crime committing – Vanessa is drawn into Kai's life. And, as the two grow closer, she finds herself letting Kai into hers.

Extract from The Wrong Side of Kai

There’s a few minutes until first period, so everyone is milling around in the hallways, a constant buzz of voices as everyone talks about the killer weekend they just had. My guess is that Madison Romy’s party is the hot topic. Half the senior class was there, and those Westerville Central football players turning up and kicking off a brawl definitely makes for some serious gossip.

But I notice something is off. As I squeeze my way through bodies, I can feel it. The pressure of a thousand eyes on me. I keep my head down, trying my best to ignore it, pretending I’m imagining it.

But no, I’m seriously not.

I slow down, lifting my gaze to look around. Even so, it’s not immediately obvious. People are moving around, pushing past me, groups of friends leaning against lockers lost in their own conversations. But I still catch the quick glances. The subtle sniggers. The one group of junior guys that busts out into laughter as they all turn to look at me. What the hell?

I give myself a quick once over just in case I’ve been walking around with my bra on show or the zipper of my jeans open – at least that would explain Malone’s weird remark – but nope, nothing. Did news spread that Harrison and I are done? That he kicked me out of his truck and left me behind at Heritage Park? Sure, it’s gossip, but it’s not that big of a deal. It’s not like we were actually dating, and I didn’t think people cared that much about Harrison and me.

I keep my head down and continue along the hallway to my locker. My heart is beating faster than usual as I fumble with my combination. I taped a mirror to the back of my locker door in freshman year, and it’s always been a lifesaver. I scan my appearance once more, but my hair is fine, my makeup is fine, my clothes are definitely fine, everything is fine. So why the hell is everyone looking at me so weird? And now that I think about it, why have I walked the entire length of this hallway without anyone talking to me?

“Looked like you had fun at Maddie’s party,” a deep voice says from behind.

I spin around so fast my elbow clunks against the metal lockers and I find myself face to face with Anthony. Noah is by his side, a few other guys from the team huddled in close behind them, pretty much trapping me against the lockers. It’s suffocating, but I’m not surprised. They’re Harrison’s friends. They’re going to taunt me the same way they did when I first cooled things down with Noah. That’s what guys do – it’s that dumb pack mentality they have.

“Um, yeah, I did actually,” I say, and they all snicker, their laughter ringing hollow in my ears. My eyebrows furrow as I watch them exchange knowing looks, rolling their eyes and generally behaving like the dicks they are. I’m not sure what’s so funny.

“How come you never once gave me a striptease?” Noah asks, leaning in close as he juts out his lower lip like a kid feeling left out. He places a hand on my hip, and the smile he gives me is gross. “I would have been cool with that, you know.” Anthony and the guys cackle, their laughter howling down the hallway so loudly that it echoes.

I grit my teeth and shove Noah’s hand off me. Fucking Harrison telling all his friends about our business. It’s not like I don’t know guys talk about this stuff. Hell, I do the same with Chyna, but still. The thought of half the football team knowing what gets me off makes my stomach churn.

Slamming my locker shut, I push my way around Anthony’s bulky frame and walk away from them, my pace quick. My heart is thumping too hard in my chest. I’m freaked out.

“Oh, come back, Vanessa!” Noah calls after me. I know most of the people in this hallway are listening at this point, and my cheeks are scorching red with heat. “Anthony wants his turn on the Murphy-Go-Round! He’s heard it’s a great ride.”

Assholes. I hate what they’re insinuating. Sure, I like to fool around, but what’s so wrong with that – besides inevitably dumping any guy who ends up asking for more from me? It’s fun. I can take my pick of the hot guys. I like the excitement. The guys act as if I have a list with a hundred different names on it, when the reality is there’s only a few. I’m pretty sure Noah has hooked up with too many girls in this school to count, including me, so to hell with him and his double standards. Those standards aren’t mine, but I’ve learned to accept that they’re just the way things are. I make sure the remarks I get every once in a while don’t bother me anymore.

But they bother me today.

As I push my way down the hall, I hear that stupid word: Slut.

I don’t catch who says it. Some girl, but I don’t even try to pinpoint who the voice belongs to. My mind is in a whirl. Something’s going on. Something bad. I can feel it in the air. An odd sense of me versus the world, like everyone in this goddamn school is against me. I feel powerless, exposed; my skin is as thin as tissue. What’s worse is, it’s usually the exact opposite. I don’t know where this feeling has come from, but suddenly I want to curl into a ball, making myself as small as I can be, and hide.
 
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