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 

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