[GIVEAWAY] Throne of Glass Goodies

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I picked up the first book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas a long while ago but lots of ARCs have kept me from getting started. I’m so excited to finally have the time to delve into these books and I wanted to share a little giveaway with you all!

These adorable Throne of Glass badges are made by the brilliant Hooked on Books, and I have one set to give away to a lucky winner!

To enter just follow my Twitter account @fireflyreads and RT the below tweet, easy!  The competition is open internationally and will close on 30th November 2015 at 11pm GMT.

Please make sure you check out my Giveaway Policy before you enter.

Good luck!

Charlotte x

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[REVIEW] Shadows of Self – Brandon Sanderson

Shadow-of-SelfSummary
Characters – 4/5
Plot – 5/5
Style – 4/5
World building – 4/5
Overall – 4/5

Quote
“To the eyes of a man burning steel, Elendel was alight and full of motion, even while shadowed by darkness and mist. Metal. In some ways, that was the true mark of mankind. Man tamed the stones, the bones of the earth below. Man tamed the fire, that ephemeral, consuming soul of life. And combining the two, he drew forth the marrow of the rocks themselves, then made molten tools.”

Review
SHADOWS OF SELF sees the return of Waxillium Ladrian, trying to balance his responsibilities as a lord and a lawman. When the Governor’s brother is murdered whilst hosting the cities corrupt noblemen and women, Wax is quickly drawn into the investigation. With the city falling apart and the killer always preternaturally one step ahead, Wax is forced to come uncomfortably close to accepting the possibility that this is one case he simply can’t handle.

In the same style as ALLOY OF LAW, Wax ends up once again drawn into a tangled mess of crimes, mysteries and thrilling experiences. There is a distinctly Wild West feel to these Era 2 novels that widens the genre and brings a completely new aspect to the fantasy landscape. I really enjoyed this crossover and as a reader who usually avoids crime and thrillers, this sideways introduction might encourage me to give some of the more traditional novels in this genre a try.

My absolute favourite features of the Wax and Wayne novels are the subtle nods to the original trilogy. While ALLOW OF LAW and SHADOWS OF SELF can both be appreciated without having read the Mistborn books, Wax’s thrill being at one with the mists is so beautifully aligned with my memories of the first novels. It’s incredibly nostalgic to read about the religions dedicated to serving Kelsier, Vin and Sazed as well as revisiting old places with new characters.

As what is essentially the fifth book of a series, at first SHADOWS OF SELF doesn’t seem to have much scope for building on an already well established world. But, of course, this is Brandon Sanderson we’re talking about. Taking on the industrial boom of Scadrial, where Kelsier and Vin once raced through Elendel’s streets in darkness, Wax now flies above motorcars and electric lights. It’s amazing to see such a familiar world through fresh eyes and I loved getting to know this newly developed Scadrial 300 years after the main events. Even since ALLOY OF LAW there has been rapid development in weapons and transport; this world is vibrant and free from the ashes that plagued Vin’s era.

The new characters continue to develop and I’ve really grown to like the determined Marasi more and more throughout these novels. She has just the right amount of impatience and tempestuousness thrown in with her intelligent and determined demeanour. Wax continues to be brilliant and terrible in equal measure, making reckless decisions that both serve his pride and protect his people.

We see the return of some huge characters and creatures from the Mistborn trilogy to shake the plot up and I’m very excited to see where Brandon takes the future books. The twists were just that little bit more sophisticated, complete with a truly unpredictable and devious villain, and the pace is pitched perfectly, keeping the narrative steaming ahead straight into a shattering conclusion. Dropping some serious bombshells towards the end, it’s clear that Wax, Wayne and Marasi definitely have a lot of story left to tell.

I received SHADOWS OF SELF from Orion in exchange for an honest review. My reviews always represent my own opinion.

[BOOKTOUR] The Whisper King – Wil Radcliffe

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Visit THE WHISPER KING tour on BookBear!

There is a monster sleeping deep inside of you, and The Whisper King is coming to wake it up…and rip it out!

My name is David Kinder. And this is my story… every goddamn bloodstained word of it.

About 25 years ago when I was six my parents died in a car crash. I was bounced around a few state homes until they finally settled me at Meripitt Hill, an orphanage just outside of Lansing, Michigan. It was there that the shadows started visiting me. Not normal shadows. These shadows moved on their own accord, and whispered strange, alien things to me. Scared the piss out of me.

Wasn’t until Donna Elizondo moved to Meripitt Hill that my life started to actually become bearable. She became my best friend. Taught me to love music and to dance. That kept the shadows away. That kept me safe.

That year we were an epic story of two. We danced. We laughed. Hell, I suspect I was falling in love with her, if kids could really know what love is.

But then she was taken away from me. Adopted.

That’s when the shadows returned for me. That’s when they took me to the Shadow Mountains to serve the Whisper King.

For 25 years I learned how to fight. How to kill. I even learned how to transform myself into a Cuthach…a monster. There were thousands of us being trained there. Thousands of us learning to reach deep inside and unleash the monsters in our guts.

When a spot opened in the Whisper King’s elite guard, the Silent Heart, I was chosen to fill it. But first I had to take one final test. A test that would determine once and for all if I was destined to be man or monster.

AMAZON
APPLE
BARNES & NOBLE
KOBO



571636_8b38d5118ba04ce18016752aa52bd2eb.jpg_srz_p_254_402_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Summary

Characters – 3/5
Plot – 4/5
Style – 4/5
World building – 3/5
Overall – 3/5

Quote
“Cogar Rí had tortured her until music became something that burned. He beat it out of her. He starved it from her soul. He stretched and squeezed and scrubbed her until there was nothing inside her but hate.”

Review
An original and dark consideration of every child’s deepest fears, THE WHISPER KING is the story of a young boy plunged into the shadows and trained to become the ultimate weapon against humanity; a monster. Incredibly exciting and fast-paced, the unique style grabbed my attention from the first page and kept me hooked until the last.

The world of The Whisper King’s army is vivid and hellish. Wil’s rich style captures the background in full detail and grounds the characters in an environment that fits them perfectly. The origins of David’s new home are kept under wraps, but with a hint of mythology towards the end of the book I’m excited to see where the world building will go in future books.

The narrative of THE WHISPER KING is extremely fast paced and punchy, cutting to the significant moments in David’s life as both human and monster. David has a fantastic, raw voice that definitely doesn’t pull its punches – if you’re a fan of violence, cussing and straight-talking characters then this is absolutely the next Dark Fantasy read for you. His tone is almost conspiratorial; I can picture him telling his story in hushed tones in the corner of a darkened room. The reader quickly becomes his ally and partner in crime.

Occasionally the jumps between events meant I missed out several years of David’s instruction on battle, culture and education, and I would have enjoyed reading more of his personal journey as he trained to gain his Cuthach. Nevertheless, we come to understand David’s crude sense of humour and his origins very quickly.

David is a truthful character with such honest and uncompromising imperfections. He knows that he’s too impatient, risky and that his temper boils close to his surface, but we see his personality gradually grow to become much more measured, analytical and mature throughout the story. His inner circle is tight-knit and fiercely protective of one another, and it’s easy to see why they have gravitated to David. I would have loved to have seen more closely into each of their backgrounds before being kidnapped by the shadows, as it gives a real 3D sense of character.

In all, I thoroughly enjoyed following David through the shadows into the Whisper King’s kingdom. A fiery story with an equally explosive finale, I grew quite fond of David’s group of monsters and am definitely looking forward to finding out what’s next for each one.

I received THE WHISPER KING from BookBear in exchange for an honest review. My reviews always represent my own opinion.

[REVIEW] Skin – Ilka Tampke

24721903Summary
Characters – 5/5
Plot – 4/5
Style – 5/5
World building – 5/5
Overall – 5/5

Quote
“He was as dazzling and unfathomable as the night sky: in equal measure splendid and despondent, vital and injured, tender and cruel. He had an Elder’s wisdom, yet the wariness of a child, and in the force of these splits, the whole earth turned within his sprawling frame.”

Review
Set in a Pagan Britain yet to experience the rough hand of Roman rule, Ailia’s story is one of magic, politics and becoming more than you ever dared to dream was possible. Born in body but not in soul, Ailia is skinless. Without a totem animal to guide and protect her spirit she is forbidden to take part in the ceremonies that bring her people together and form the structure of their lives. She has found herself in a privileged position in the Tribesqueen’s kitchen, but it comes at the cost of never being permitted to learn, to marry and never knowing who she truly is. With her peaceful village on the cusp of a brutal Roman invasion, she must quickly learn to find the courage and conviction to rise to the role the Mothers have destined for her.

SKIN is a collision of all things perfect. Ilka’s language is like music, deftly weaving reality and the impossible into one beautiful world. The dialogue feels true to the era yet natural and playful, simultaneously elevated and understandable. Every moment is cinematic, real, alive with colour, texture and sound – from the kitchen to the Mother’s abstract realm, Ailia travels through vivid and fascinating scenes. I could read this book over and over and never grow tired of Ilka’s absorbing prose.

The mixture of history to fantasy is in flawless proportions. I usually shy away from historical fantasy as the courts and queens and servants can be stale and boring, but SKIN takes place in a relatively unexplored era with an original and fresh setting. The research poured into the novel is evident on each page, creating a believable and strongly rooted world.

The overall plot is fairly simple – the threat of Rome hangs directly over the villages head and the people must decide whether to stand their ground or submit to the sheer force of the Roman army. It means sacrificing their deeply set pagan ways and denouncing the Mothers, but it also means staying alive. Ailia is obviously key to this decision in some way, being our protagonist, but there is a sense of reason in her significance and a massive risk in trusting her importance.

There are several side plots which add extra flavour and excitement to the mix – Ailia’s romance with Taliesin is a thing of beauty and her journey as a character and a woman is developed with just the right pace. I often complain about romance in YA and fantasy novels but Ilka has absolutely hit the nail on the head in SKIN. Ailia is both confident and vulnerable, inexperienced yet mature while Taliesin is alluring and frustratingly mysterious, creating a sensuous and intricate relationship between the two.

I savoured the final chapters of SKIN as I just didn’t want that first read-through experience to end. While it would stand as a convincing standalone with the completion of a full story arc, I am absolutely thrilled that a sequel is already in motion. A sprawling fantasy series could easily spring from SKIN, in any case, I hope to read much much more from Ilka Tampke.

[REVIEW] Magonia – Maria Dahvana Headley

21393526Summary
Characters – 3/5
Plot – 4/5
Style – 4/5
World building – 3/5
Overall – 3/5

Quote
“I’m dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can’t even shine a light on it. I feel like I’m mostly made of mysteries.”

Review
Aza Ray has been drowning in thin air since she was one year old, kept alive on experimental drugs and countless trips to the hospital. Her condition is so rare that it’s been named after her – she’s the only one to ever be diagnosed. When she begins to hallucinate giant ships in the sky and hundreds of birds following her a few days before her 16th birthday everyone puts it down to her medication, and then she disappears.

MAGONIA is an exciting story that bridges the gap between young adult contemporary and fantasy. Whisked up into the sky, Aza discovers a fascinating new world of flying ships, pirates and magic. She can breathe, she can sing, but she can never return home to Earth. The story alternates between Aza’s new life in Magonia and her best friend, Jason, desperately trying to find a way back to her.

I have to give credit here for an exceptionally original and exciting plot. Magonia is a brilliantly unique world of mythology, politics and magic, somehow feeling possible and fairytale all at the same time. Based on 8th century folklore, Aza’s new world brings to life the original UFO story, anchors falling from the sky, sailors drowning in the air and crops mysteriously disappearing. The plot of MAGONIA was something entirely fresh and ever-changing, fast paced with an explosive conclusion.

Whilst we don’t get to experience much of the physical world of Magonia, limited mostly to the ship Aza joins, the culture she experiences whilst aboard is rich and well thought-out. There are norms unique to the pirates of the ship and certain rites and rituals that must be respected. Aza must learn to earn her position rather than strut straight to the top – she might be a bit of a special snowflake but she’s got to work first.

I got on well with Maria’s writing style and thought her occasional poetic touches were perfect – words falling down the page in shapes and spirals, using empty brackets to show the words that best remain unspoken. The relationship between Aza and Jason was well crafted and felt quite realistic, but the inclusion of a love triangle irritated me.

I feel like a lot of YA novels feel the need to add some kind of love complication as an attempt at a side-plot, when in reality it just ruins the story more often than not. Well done romance is certainly a welcome addition to a story – Aza and Jason were definitely headed in the right direction – but throwing in a second love interest often just doesn’t fit with the personality and direction of the protagonist. Aza is loyal, thick-skinned, sarcastic and biting, and Jason has tried for 10 years to make her go weak at the knees. I just don’t see this Romeo and Juliet kind of relationship with another guy even crossing her mind. I completely appreciate the parallels Maria was trying to draw here with Aza’s loyalties now split between two completely different worlds, but her jellylegs for someone she just met seemed disingenuous to her true character.

Whilst overall I really enjoyed MAGONIA, there was a little something lacking that I just couldn’t quite put my finger on. It niggled at me the whole way through and I wasn’t sure whether it was in the storytelling, the characters or something else entirely. This little something bothered me and I wish I could have let it go to fully immerse myself in the story.

Regardless, I’m definitely interested to see how Aza’s story pans out in the planned sequel as I’m expecting some serious repercussions and drama based on the final chapters of MAGONIA. A completely original story with an exciting plot, I’m absolutely looking forward to reading more from Maria Dahvana Headley.

[REVIEW] My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises – Fredrik Backman

downloadSummary
Characters – 5/5
Plot – 4/5
Style – 4/5
World building – 5/5
Overall – 4/5

Quote
“All the best people are different – look at superheroes. After all, if superpowers were normal, everyone would have them.”

Review
Endearing and heartwarming, MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES is the tale of precocious seven (almost eight) year old Elsa coming to terms with her superhero and best friend’s death. Sent on an epic quest to deliver letters to the various characters living in her block of flats, the real world begins to mingle with Elsa’s fairytale land of monsters, knights and angels.

Fredrik’s style is really pleasant to read with lovely, image-rich writing that flows nicely from page to page. The plot is simple but effectively executed, keeping a reasonable pace as Elsa finds and delivers each letter. The Kingdom of Miamas is beautifully constructed and delicately woven into the storyline of Elsa’s reality – even the setting of her average Swedish hometown was stunning.

Drawing on Elsa’s memories and adventures with her outrageous grandmother, we have the opportunity to explore all sorts of stories in the Land of Almost-Awake. The tales are sewn into the plot in an incredibly intelligent way and I just couldn’t get enough of Miamas. I loved this feature and felt it added a whole other facet to what would otherwise have been a more traditional literary novel. For those not used to the fantastic, it may be difficult to get really stuck into the story, but for me it worked perfectly.

Elsa was a delight to read. She is bright, funny and very much a fan of quality literature such as Harry Potter and Spiderman. She’s a touch eccentric, just like her granny, and has an exceptional imagination. Even though she’s wise before her years, her voice feels very true to a curious and intelligent young girl and she has an inquisitive nature that really becomes her.

We see the whole story through Elsa’s eyes but we learn much about her friends, family and neighbours as she muddles through her grandmother’s quest. All the side characters we encounter initially seem rather one dimensional, but as Elsa delivers her letters and gets to know each and every person on a more personal level, layers of complexity are revealed. The stereotypes, amusing though they might be, slowly become real, rounded people.

Through her life Granny shows us that it’s okay to be different and through her letters she reminds us of an incredibly important lesson – don’t judge a book by its cover. The people Elsa encounters all have stories to tell and by the end of the book my initial opinions had been completely reversed on all of them.

MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS doesn’t fit into one distinct genre and has a little bit of everything for everyone (just like Granny); fantasy adventure colliding with contemporary life. A creative world and complicated characters, Fredrik has brought an utterly charming, uplifting and original story to life.

I received MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES from Sceptre in exchange for an honest review. My reviews always represent my own opinion.

[GIVEAWAY] Winter is Coming…

I don’t know about you guys but I am SO excited for the return of Game of Thrones. I’ll admit, I’ve fallen a tiny bit behind with reading the series but I absolutely love the TV show. And Jon Snow.

To celebrate Game of Thrones Season 5 coming back to the UK on 13th April I’m hosting my first giveaway! Up for grabs is a TV tie-in of the first book from A Song of Ice and Fire, perfect for those who adore the show but haven’t yet experienced George RR Martin’s literary magic. An extra special prize for another lucky winner is a rather attractive Hand of the King lapel pin, if you dare to wear it…

To enter all you have to do is click the link below and follow @fireflyreads, retweet my giveaway tweet and/or comment with your favourite moment from A Song of Ice and Fire! Please be aware that the comments below may contain spoilers for the rest of the series; I encourage commenters to use SPOILER ALERTS for moments post-A Storm of Swords. Whether it’s Daenerys giving a badass power-speech or your favourite gruesome death, video clips are most definitely welcome!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

All options gain you 1 entry apiece, with a max of 3 entries per person. Entries must be actioned through the Rafflecopter widget to count. UK only. There will be two random winners, first prize as the paperback. Entries close on 13th April at 12am GMT and winners will be verified before being contacted. For more details or to ask any questions, please email fireflyreads@hotmail.com

Good luck, winter is coming…

Charlotte x