BLOG TOUR| Blackwing Review / Ravencry First Impressions

**SIDENOTE: I was set up to do a full review of Ravencry. However, some stuff has happened recently that meant I've had the amount of time reading drastically reduced. I only managed 150 pages. I have yet to write a review of Blackwing - first book in the series - so your getting two things to make up for the thing I was set up to do. **


Blackwing (Ravens' Mark #1)
Ed McDonald
⭐⭐⭐⭐

UK Publisher: Gollancz
UK Release Date: July 27th, 2017

Synopsis: 
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer's legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard's paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.
The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall's 'Engine', a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery - a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic's defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic's bluff.
Review
Blackwing starts in the depths of an apocalyptic wasteland - in the Misery. Think the Fold from Bardugo's Shadow and Bone trilogy, but grittier, closer to the horrors of radiation mutations and the product of a war against Kings that have the powers of Gods. The worldbuilding on McDonald's part fixes for a narrative that believable and immersive.
There's something very likable about the very un-likable Captain Rhyalt Galharrow. It takes a lot for a first person narrative to draw me in from the first line. It has to grip me, throw me into a series of questions, give me a taste of the person I'm relying on to tell this narrative.
Somebody warned them that we were coming.
Galharrow is a seasoned warrior, bound to the Nameless, Crowfoot, and the product from living in a world such as in Blackwing. The one thing I lacked was more interaction with the side characters of Nenn and Tnota. I got a lot of information about them from Galharrow's inner monologue. but I didn't get enough of dialogue interactions - maybe this is just me being greedy as there was a fair amount, but just felt like once Ezabeth entered into the story everyone else falls by the way side. Which is why I lowered from a five to a four.

I thought I was out of things to praise and then thought, holy shit Batman, the fight sequences! The detailed, yet so efficiently precise execution is blindingly incredible. And one more thing that kept me gripped to the page. I believe that McDonald actually practices the fight sequence with the London Longsword Academy before putting them on the page. And it pays off.
This is a book that is polished, compact and lends itself to the gritty action of a grimdark novel. Don't be fooled by the tag of 'debut author'.

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Ravencry (Ravens' Mark #2)
Ed McDonald

UK publisher: Gollancz
UK Release Date: June 18th, 2018

Synopsis (May contain spoilers for Blackwing):
Four years have passed since Nall's Engine drove the Deep Kings back across the Misery, but as they hurl fire from the sky, darker forces plots against the republic.

A new power is rising: a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady manifests in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for her power even as the city burns around them.
When the Crowfoot's arcane vault is breached, an object of terrible power is stolen, and Galharrow and his Blackwings must once find out which of Valngrad's enemies is responsible before they have a chance to use it.

To save  Valengrad, Galharrow, Nenn and Tnota must venture to a darker, more twisted and more dangerous place than any they’ve walked before: the very heart of the Misery.
First Impressions
I wasn't expecting it to take place four years after the events of Blackwing, that has thrown me out a little bit. However, just like book once, I am drawn back in to Galharrow's distinctive narrative voice. 

Much like the first book, we are thrown into the forefront of the action. If you read that first chapter and not want to continue on, the =n I don't know what else could convince you. That being said, this is taking a different route, or at least something feels different. 

I can't you anymore than that, at the moment. Not until I've read that final line and made my notes. But just know: this sequel is set for something impressive.

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About the author

Ed McDonald has spent many years dancing between different professions, cities and countries, but the only thing any of them share in common in that they have allowed him enough free time to write. He currently lives in London, a city that provides him with constant inspiration, where he works as a university lecturer. When he's not grading essays or wrangling with misbehaving plot lines he can usually be found fencing with longswords, rapiers and pollaxes.

BLOG TOUR| One?


One?
Jennifer L Cahill


Release Date: June 21st, 2018
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing 

Synopsis: 

It's in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi and One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty somthings living in SW4.


Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual.


Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At 28 she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming.


Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness.


Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future.

Review


Okay, you know me guys, I have to be honest - I was a little bit disappointed, and I feel really bad that this can't be a raving review full of love. After a lot of inner conflict I settled on 2.5/3 stars. 


I took a star away for each of the two things that bugged me: an excessive use of "..." and a conflicting point of view. Both of which I would have been called out of in my creative writing seminars for doing, if I presented this story. When using the ellipses, you want to do it to cause an effect, for emphasis, for suspense, for ambiguity, a lot of the instances that it was used for, could have been edited out and present a cohesive sentences to a better effect. Overuse something and it looses emphasis and meaning.


What I mean by conflicting point of view refers to the many interjection of inner thoughts of the characters we are focusing on, altering from the close third to first. The right narrative shouldn't need to do that! You characters actions and dialogue should be enough to give the readers clues to as to how the characters are feeling in a scene. 


Okay, I hope that didn't come across as mean but as constructive criticism - I do have some positive points that pick this up. I really enjoyed the character dynamics and think that editing and striping down (of the points made prior) could help to build for a more interesting narrative that readers could engage with. I related to Zara a lot - being someone who moved from London to Bangor and having to learn a new pace of life, make new friends and learn how to deal with adulting things, like paying rent. 


Jennifer, if you're reading this, I hope you don't get hurt by anything I might have said. Gosh, I feel so bad! I hate writing reviews like this.


About the Author

Living  in Notting  Hill, Jennifer  L Cahill works with  both individuals and blue  chip clients to help them navigate  and master change and transformation.  She has over seventeen years’ experience  in consulting specialising in change, communications,  business transformation and personal development. She  has a graduate degree in International Commerce and Spanish  and a Masters in Business Studies. In her spare time she loves  embracing her more creative side. For more information please visit www.JenniferLCahill.com or follow her @JLCAuthor   









Don't You Own Anything Else?

Calling this post 'Don't you own anything else?' because when I saw this suggestion from @_rebeccastobart, on Twitter, I couldn't help but see that the only thing I really own, are books. The original suggestion was to name twenty-five things that are in you room... only I don't own much and could only stretch it to fifteen without presenting books that are more valuable than I care to admit.
Hopefully this helps you get to know me a little bit more personally!

No #1:
This is a quote from Victoria Schwab. Not from her books, but one she frequently tweets out when she's in the process of drafting. At lot of my own writing process has been influenced by V's advice.
I keep it up for a reminder when I'm stressing about my deadlines.
I'm not writing a book, I'm writing a chapter.
I'm not writing a chapter, I'm writing a page.
I'm not writing a page, I'm writing a line.
No #2:
My impressive, not so impressive, badge collection. Or, buttons, if you're from the States.

These comes from multiple events, YALC, and publicist packages.

My favourite?
The Windwitch, Book of Dust and The Bone Season ones.


No #3:
I have had the same hot water bottle since I was eight-years-old. To the left is that said hot water bottle, in its Eeyore cover.

My biggest memory is having a stomach ache, laying in bed with a warm Eeyore and watching my favourite episodes of Doctor Who.

At the age of twenty, nothing has changed. Seriously.
No #4:
At the point of taking these pictures I had dying daffodils in my room. I always go through several batches during the March/April point in the year. Budding daffs are my favourite flowers, as well as the poppy flower.

They aren't overly floral, so they don't overtake my air fresheners. They, somehow, don't set my hay-fever off either.

No #5:
You're about to discover my unhealthy obsession with the smell of lavender. In all it's forms.

This year, that's September to June, I have gone through 4 bottle of this air freshener.

It says it last for up to 6 weeks, but it will go on longer. I just need to pop it up somewhere and leave it. Every time I enter my room I get hit by the scent.

It keeps a calming ambiance to my room, as I get stressed over things such as upcoming deadlines and the fact I don't have an idea until its 24hours until said deadline.



No #6:
This is one for the price of two... that didn't make sense.

This counts as two things.

The first are my pots of Sleepy body lotion from Lush. And guess what. It's lavender. I suffer from really bad insomnia to the point my sleep pattern can flip entirely to the point of nocturnal living. This stuff is the bee's fucking knees in terms of knocking me out at night.

No #7
The second is my Hydromol cream. This is just to help keep my psoriasis flares down.

No #8:
In my room at Halls we get given a push pin board. That's where my badges are strung up, as well as a selection of photographs.

From top to botton, my mum and I at a meet and greet for Evanescence, me at Samantha Shannon and Victoria Schwab's event last August and me and Victoria at YALC 2017.









No #9:
Very recently I aquired a TV and Xbox 360 in my room. And the only game I have with me at Uni is Dragon Age: Inquisition. Which is fair enough, because I absolutely love it.








No 10:
There are a fair few here that I would like to highlight.

The jar is my penny collector, 1p, 2p and 5p get put in there so that I can cash them in at the end of the year for either emergency funds or a fun trip to the arcades. Usually as emergency funds.

No #11:
That is then holding up my multiple text books and writing journals. I own more notebooks than what should be okay to.








No #12:
This, other than my Eeyore, could be my only soft toy that I have from my childhood.

This was a gift from my Nan, she had this ginger cat  when I was a kid, which I would always say looked like her cat at the time- Ginga. One year for my birthday she bought me an identical one.

For some reason the theme park Chessington is attatched to this memory?
No #13: 

This is my one and only Funko Pop!

Are you surprised that it's the Series 2 Doomsday Doctor? If you were than I too am surprised.

I stand by the notion that the Russell T Davies era of Who remains one the best era of the BBC, as well as one of the best comebacks for a television show. (*hides in the corner waiting for some bald bloke is his fifties to show up and shout that I'm just a stupid kid who doesn't know what quality tv looks like even if it punched me on the nose*)

If anyone would like to just give me a Jaime Lannister, or sell it to me for a decent price (and not the £45 people are asking for on Ebay).... JK.

I think?

No #14:

Another gift from my Nan. This is where I keep the folded strips of paper, with the title of unread books and my earrings that I've started wearing again.

It's mostly just there for decorative purposes, as I love the artist- Anne Stokes.





No #15:

My tarot deck.
The same artist as who designed the art piece on my box.
I use these every now and again to freak out people when they come out as pretty accurate about someone's situation. They also have helped me make some choices about difficult spots I've had to face in the past few months.



And that's all there is really. I live quite minimally just because of the fact I have to keep moving back and forth from London to North Wales via a train. I'd love to see some more people do this! (Only if they're comfortable to do it!!)





TBR| June 2018

Although this month I am free for the most part, I'm still unsure to how much of it I will have time to dedicate to reading. That being said, it doesn't stop me from being ambitious.

Books to finish in June:
  • The Charmed Life of Alex Moore by Molly Flatt
  • Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Goodbye Perfect
Sara Barnard


This was on last month's TBR and was one of the very few titles that I didn't get to. It's really short and will 




The Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller 


I'm bought this while back home during the Easter/Spring holiday. It was sort of thrusted upon my persons by a friend and me being 




The Truth About Alice
Jennifer Mathieu







Vicious (Villans #1)
V.E.Schwab

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Frat Girl
Kiley Roache

Add to Goodreads







Top 5 Wednesday| Hey! Look! It's the Sun!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly blog group that come together to discuss that weeks topic. The idea was first curated by the wonderful Lainey at GingerReadLainey and is now run by Samantha over on ThoughtsonTomes. 



If you wish to participate, either on your Blog or Booktube channel then, please, join the group on Goodreads for all the relevant topics.

This week is all about the books that we either want to read this summer, or the books that connote the season. I'm choosing the latter, a post featuring the books I want to read this summer will up later in the week!

For me, Summer is to read all the UKYA contemporaries that I have missed out on because of University deadlines. I tend to get through them in about four hours, so they make light for a quick read.

I am going to recommend 5 of my favourite YA contemporaries that I think you should check out this summer. 

1. I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

This one was a recent read, and possibly my favourite on this list. This book was so casually diverse with fandom routed to it's core. Fantastic characters, and the anxiety rep really struck a cord.

2. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

You'll notice that I like the books that have a good heart and a good humor to them. TEOOO is one of them and you all need to check it out and read it. 

3. Editing Emma by Chloe Seager

L-O-L funny and the sequel, Friendship Fails of Emma Nash (OUT August 9th), is equally as good.  

4. A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Sara's books just grip at my heart and don't let go. All I'm going to leave here is the tagline:
Steffi doesn't talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can't hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn't a lightning strike, it's the rumbling roll of thunder.

5. Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

This was just fluffy and fun! With the added bonus of a cameo from Melinda Salisbury, author of The Sin Eater's Daughter and State of Sorrow. 

BOOK HAUL| April/May 2018

When you've somehow accumulated enough books to warrant another book haul... even though you're meant to be on another book buying ban.

At first it started because I was getting stressed with my deadlines, so I treated myself to one or two, maybe three, and the rest were sent via a request to the publisher.


His Dark Materials
Philip Pullman

** Bought as a end-of-deadline treat**

I caved and treated myself the Every Man Library edition of the HDM trilogy. I already owned the 20th anniversary editon of Northern Lights and needed to replace the second and third book. Overall it worked out cheaper than to rebuy the 20th anniversary editions.




The Electrical Venus
Julie Meyhew

** Sent via the publisher for an honest and truthful review. **

UK Publisher: Hot Key Books
UK Release Date: April 19th, 2018
Goodbye Perfect
Sara Barnard

** Bought during the stress of my finals on the Amazon 2 for £7 deal**

I got stressed and needed an outlet - okay? I thought a quick contemporary would be what I needed, only then I remember how more stressed I get when trying to balance reading with writing. 


The Hazel Wood
Melissa Albert

** Bought during the stress of my finals on the Amazon 2 for £7 deal**

See above. I've heard great things about this one and still fully intend on reading it soon. 






The Mermaid
Christina Henry

** Sent via the publisher for an honest and truthful review. ** 

UK Publisher: Titan Books
UK Release Date: June 19th, 2018




Vicious (Villians #1)
V.E.Schwab

** Bought because I have no self control when it comes to VE's books. **

I am the proud owner of no. 46 of 200! Now I just have to choose whether I want to annotate the crap out of it and make it MY copy - or should I just replace my paperback and annotate that?





Burning Brightly
Alexa Donne

** Sent via the publisher for an honest and truthful review. **

UK Publisher: Titan Books
UK Release Date: June 12th, 2018







WRAP-UP| May 2018

May has been a weird one. Another assignment over, another semester over, another academic year... get this... over! I have officially finished my second year at University and now will spend my time reading, coming up with ideas for my dissertation and reveling in the feeling that is home.

What started out as a rather poor reading month (blame the essay, screenplay, a novel chapter and a short story that were due) and then rapidly improved when I did nothing but lay in my pit for two weeks.


A Court of Frost and Starlight
Sarah J. Maas


My first ever one star read! I have some, a lot, of thoughts on this one and plan on doing a review. In fact it's scheduled for June 5th. It just provided with every example of poor execution that I could think off. 

I Was Born For This
Alice Oseman


In contrast, Oseman's IWBFT might just be my only five star read and my favourite contemporary so far this year. It dealt with a lot, and used such casual diversity that I wished we were more focused on producing than the books that use it as marketing strategy. 

Ruin and Rising 
Leigh Bardugo


This one is on the high spectrum of a 3.5 rating so I bumped it up. I rather enjoyed the conclusion to this YA Fantasy. And while it may not be groundbreaking, it was overall a pleasant series with some wonderful writing. I can't wait to read Bardugo's Six of Crows and see how the two compare.

Sleeping Giants
Sylvain Neuvel


Another book I am hoping to get a review out for in the next week or so (now that I have time to sit and write). I loved this! The only thing stopping me from giving this a five stars is that for a book so focused on characters, I felt too withdrawn from them. The nature of how this book is told means that I had no interaction between the characters apart from 1-on-1 with this masked voice.

Planetfall
Emma Newman


I went on a real sci-fi kick this month. Even rewatched a few of my favourite sci-fi films. Although this one is slightly more sci-fi, that I would ordinarily aim to read, I still thouroughly enjoyed this. I just need to purchase a copy of After Atlas. Newman has a way of creating such complex and interesting characters that I just want to keep reading about - they're dynamic.

Books continuing into June:

  • The Charmed Life of Alex Moore by Molly Flatt
  • Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
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