Rosie Reviews: Escape from Witchwood Hollow

Escape from Witchwood Hollow

Title: Escape from Witchwood Hollow

Author: Jordan Elizabeth

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Free ebook in exchange for an honest review

Review

Summary

Imagine a sunlit forest, a moment of peace frozen in time. Imagine being in that forest, never wanting to leave. No, never being able to leave. Now imagine stumbling across other people in this forest, noting their strange way of dress and realising that everyone you ever knew is gone. That is Witchwood Hollow.

In Escape from Witchwood Hollow, two girls from different times find themselves caught by this mysterious, and cursed place. One tries to find her way out, while the other believes it is the only thing able to help her.

Plot

I really enjoyed the two different stories and, thinking back, it is difficult to determine which of the two main characters’ story lines I like the best. In fact, I found them mostly to work in opposites. Where I found one being a bit slow, the other picked up the pace. For fear of mild spoilers, I’ll just say that Honoria’s storyline explores her and her friend Leon trying to find out more about a Hollow which seems to have lost its power. This is told alongside Albertine’s story, a girl from the past who stumbles into Witchwood Hollow and only wants to escape. These stories play alongside each other and a development in one will only lead you to second guess where you think the other is headed, something which keeps you engrossed in the story, furiously re-guessing how the ending is going to turn out.

Characters

I will admit, at the beginning of the novel, I did not like Honoria – I found her frustrating and her characterisation a little confusing. It also came across as a little childish, but that could be due to the way I imagined the character to be. Albertine was a much more interesting character with, I felt, a bit more of a purpose. That being said, Honoria grew on me. Her interactions with other people really developed her character, as well as the book’s setting (with the exception of her interactions with the girls her age).

The witch is also a bit of a mystery. We never really find out the true circumstances of her ending up in the woods – the motive behind her actions leading to it. I also found her motivations for trapping people a little inconsistent with her character. She was not nearly as haunting or scary as the concept of Witchwood Hollow is.

World/Setting

This novel is set mostly in America, in the fictional town of Arnn. Both characters come to Arnn at an important point in their lives – one for marriage and one following the death of her parents – and so we see the town through very different perspectives. Unfortunately, I found that Arnn was lacking in any distinct feel. Particularly in Honoria’s chapters, it felt like it could have been any other town. Witchwood Hollow, on the other hand was beautifully described and you really get a sense of the mystical from it.

Final thoughts

If you want a book that keeps you guessing with an ending filled with surprises, this is the book for you. The mysterious Witchwood Hollow dominates the book, reaching out and grasping hold of the main character’s lives, so much so you never know how they’ll manage to escape. 9/11 does play a prominent part of Honoria’s story line, which gives this fantasy novel a sharp taste of reality. Escape from Witchwood Hollow is a quick and entertaining read, despite it having its moments which did not quite work for me.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23351890-escape-from-witchwood-hollow

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Escape-from-Witchwood-Hollow/9781620076712/?a_aid+rosienreads

 

Advertisements

Rosie Reviews Sneak Peeks: The Glittering Court and Rebel of the Sands

This week, I have had the chance to read two sneak peeks of books released this spring, sent to me by the publishers via NetGalley. Both are young adult books with female leads, but beyond that, they are very different. As these are just sneak peeks of the first few chapters, rather than a review of a full book, the reviews will be slightly shorter than normal as I do not know how the books progress beyond the chapters I read.

The Glittering Court

Title: The Glittering Court

Author: Richelle Mead

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: 5th April 2016

Review

The Glittering Court is the first in a new series by Richelle Mead. The court in question is an academy which takes young women from less fortunate backgrounds and turns them into suitable brides for the nouveau riche in recently colonised land. The main character, Adelaide, is from a family of old money, but joins the court to escape a life she could not possibly enjoy but winds up falling for the man who brought her to the Court in the first place – Cedric Thorn.

I will admit, if I had received only the first two to three chapters of this book, the rating would have been much lower. I found the whole set up of Adelaide getting engaged, learning about the Glittering Court and then joining it to be very convoluted and contrived. It just felt very unrealistic, bordering on the ridiculous in some places, and Adelaide just came across as unlikeable and spoilt.

Once Tamsin and Mira, the two girls Adelaide teams up with, join the story and we get to the Court, I began to enjoy it a lot more. Everything felt like it slipped into place and I found myself getting very invested in the story line. There are a lot more layers than just a bunch of girls learning to be lady’s in order to get a husband. Each of the main characters has their secrets and there is a lot more at stake than just a broken heart.

I did have a lot of issues with how the concept of Court relied on, essentially, selling pretty girls to the highest bidder. But having not read the rest of the story, I am not sure how this pans out or whether it gets addressed. Looking past both that issue and the beginning of the novel, I would say it is a really entertaining story that makes you feel for the characters involved. I am curious to see how it will continue as a series as, at the moment, it feels a lot more like a stand-a-lone (Side note: I’ve just read that the sequels will just be from Tamsin and Mira’s point of views – I’m not sure how I feel about that), but it is a book I would like to read the end to.

Rating: 3/5

 Rebel of the Sands

Title: Rebel of the Sands

Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Publisher: Viking Books

Release Day: Out Now

Review

Rebel of the Sands is a book which feels like a cross between a Western and Middle Eastern tale. As a result, when I first started to read it, it did feel a little jarring. That being said, however, once I got used to it, it actually works quite well in setting the tone of the book and creating a distinct world. The main character, Amani, is also trying to escape an arranged marriage – one where her misery is certain. To do this, she enters a shooting contest in order to win enough money to get her away from her town. Unfortunately for her, her plan goes awry in pretty much every way possible.

What I particularly liked about this book is that, in just the first few chapters, the world already feels very built up, I could tell who the principle characters are, yet I have no idea where it is headed. The mythology of djinn, as mentioned on the blurb, is set up to play a part later on, so that you are already grounded with the characters without the fantastical elements taking over.

I did find the writing style a little difficult to get into, but this could have been due to the way it appeared on my kindle screen and that I had just finished another book of a different style just before starting Rebel of the Sands. As I only got the first few chapters of the book, it was a little difficult to get a full appreciation of the novel and how the characters and writing develops. I did find, however, that my curiosity has been piqued for this world and what else I can learn about it, as well as where Amani’s path is leading her. Not to mention, I absolutely love the cover.

Rating: 4/5

Rosie Reads: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

truthwitch

Title: Truthwitch

Author: Susan Dennard

Publisher: Tor

Genre: Fantasy

Source: ARC copy from Goodreads First Reads

Review

Summary

Truthwitch is a brilliant book.

I went into Truthwitch knowing not very much at all. I had seen it mentioned online a couple of times and it seemed interesting so, when I saw it listed as Goodreads giveaway, I jumped at the chance. To find I had won was very exciting indeed.

While it took a little bit of warming to, once I latched onto the magic system and got to know the characters I found myself completely enthralled with the book. I found myself struggling to put it down and, once I had succeeded in that, being desperate to pick it back up again.

Plot

Truthwitch takes place towards the end of a Twenty Year Truce between warring nations. Renegotiations have started to take place but war seems inevitable. Enter Thread-sisters Safi and Iseult – two girls who only want to find a flat together and live life as they want to. Instead, they find themselves on the run, caught up events larger than they could think possible and only just discovering the extent of their powers.

This plot kept me hooked; there were so many twists and turns that it was difficult to find a place to put the book down. What I particularly loved was how, while Iseult and Safi were on the same adventure, each had journeys and sub-plots of their own. I thought the pacing was really well done and the writing was on point throughout.

Characters

While the plot was fantastic, it was the characters that really made this book. Each point of view character grew as the novel progressed. They felt alive in your head and their individual stories suited their characterisation perfectly while still adding to the over-arching plot.

Iseult was my favourite of the three. I related to her the most and I found her plot the most intriguing. That being said, it is very close between each of the characters. Safi was incredibly enjoyable to read and, while I did found one thread of her plot to be quite predictable, I found it difficult to guess any of the others.

World/Setting

In Truthwitch Susan Dennard has managed to make a world that is intriguing and yet feels real throughout the novel. There is politics, pirates, tribes and, of course, magic. At times, I found the world to be reminiscent of Westeros from Game of Thrones. The political system is not fully delved into but we see enough to be able to understand Safi’s situation and feel the threat that follows her.

The magic system in this book was fantastic and the intertwining of the magic with the mythology of the Origin Wells leaves me curious for more. There are a different types of Witch, each with powers over a certain source such as Water, Air and Blood. Safi is a rare Truthwitch, able to tell truth from lie, while Iseult can see the Threads (connections) between people and read their emotions. I particularly loved the description of her powers and there is certainly more to discover about both Iseult’s powers and the magic system of this world.

Final thoughts

Truthwitch is a magnificent book. Its magic draws you in, keeping you engaged in Safi and Iseult’s adventures and desperate to join them. From empresses to pirates, romance to vicious sea beasts, this book as everything you could possible want in a fantasy novel (except maybe dragons). I would definitely recommend adding it the top of your to read list in 2016. The sequel cannot come soon enough.

Truthwitch is released on 5th January (US) and 14th January (UK) 2016

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21414439-truthwitch

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Truthwitch-Susan-Dennard/9781447282044/?a_aid=rosienreads

Cover Reveal: Pawn of the Phoenix *competition*

Earlier this year, I read the fantastic novel by Jamie Mclachlan called Mind of the Phoenix (review) which is the owner of one of the most beautiful covers I have seen. It is also the first book in The Memory Collector series.

Today, I get to be involved in the cover reveal for its sequel: Pawn of the Phoenix

However, this reveal comes with a little twist. Rather than a full-on reveal, where you get the whole cover immediately, the publishers, Penner Publishing, have decided to do something a little different.

It’s competition time!

Dotted around the internet, on a number of blogs, are images of the cover broken up into six pieces like a jigsaw puzzle. The first few people to email with the completed cover get to win an exciting prize.

Unfortunately, like all competitions, this one has a deadline. You have until 24th December to find all the cover pieces, so you had better get cracking.

So, without further ado, the cover piece I have to reveal to you is:

Pawn of the Phoenix Cover Reveal

Even from this segment, I can already tell it’s going to be a fantastic cover. The book itself is going to be released in February 2016, so keep your eyes peeled for that – if it’s even half as good as Mind of the Phoenix, it is going to be excellent.

For more information about the giveaway and cover reveal (and more about the series), here is a link to the author’s website.

If you haven’t read Mind of the Phoenix already (and really, you need to), you can find it on the Book Depository or on Amazon.

Good luck in finding the rest of the cover segments!

 

 

Rosie Reviews: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self UK

Title: Shadows of Self

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Publisher: Gollancz

Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Source: NetGalley eBook for Review

 Review

Summary

Shadows of Self is the sequel to The Alloy of Law and as a result this review will contain spoilers for the first book in this series.

It takes place a year after the events of the first book and in no way falls victim to the disappointing second book syndrome. If anything, this book is better. We get to explore more of the mythology that was set up in the original Mistborn series as well as in The Alloy of Law and follow Wax and his team as they find themselves facing an invincible enemy.

While it took me a little while to get into the book, I was soon pulled right into the story and by the time of the final confrontation, it was near impossible to put the book down. The pacing was excellent and the writing made for a really enjoyable read.

Plot

The main plot was well contained within this one book and, as a result, I think this book could easily be read as a standalone, although you would gain more from reading the first book beforehand. The subplots aren’t forced either, adding to the depth of the novel and keeping you interested in the over-arching storyline as well. The political tones of the plot harked back to the Mistborn series and there were a number of times were I had no idea where the book was headed, not to mention there were a couple of twists which really made you think.

Characters

The characters in this book continue to be brilliant additions to the novel. While Wax is still the main character and so receives the most focus and development, Wayne and Marasi are equally as entertaining to read. Wayne maintains his position as my favourite character and we get a lot more backstory for him which I really enjoyed. Marasi also gets a bit more attention and becomes a lot more independent. Her infatuation with Wax is more endearing than annoying and I found her increasing self-confidence and role as constable to be a delight.

The villain of this piece was thrilling and chilling. I won’t reveal too much here but their skillset really gets your skin crawling and they are unpredictable and dangerous. There is a twist at the end involving this particular Big Bad that I certainly did not see coming. Everything about this character was very well-done and their actions will have many consequences for the next book.

World/Setting

Shadows of Self explores more of Scadrial in terms of location as well as the mythology of the series. We get to go to places we never saw in the previous book and there are numerous links back to the original Mistborn series which, for readers of that series, will make this book that bit more rewarding.

Final thoughts

I found myself fully immersed in the world and story that Sanderson has created. Each of the characters added something to the novel and the plot, while self-contained, has overriding consequences for the rest of the series. It draws you in and then keeps you hooked right until the climactic finale. This is a series that is worth the read.

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16065004-shadows-of-self

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Shadows-of-Self-Brandon-Sanderson/9781473208216/?a_aid=RosieNReads

 

 

Rosie Reviews: The Death of Danny Daggers by Haydn Wilks

the death of danny daggers

Title: The Death of Danny Daggers

Author: Haydn Wilks

Publisher: Dead Bird Press

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Source: Ebook – Review Copy

Review

Summary

When I first received The Death of Danny Daggers, I was excited to read it. The premise sounded interesting and a lot of fun to read. However, it is a long book and I was worried I might not get past the first few pages – they are full of very crude and over-the-top descriptions, so much so that I could not really take what I was reading seriously. Once I got past that, however, the book turned into something very different and I was very much taken by it.

Plot

The plot of this book revolves around, as the title suggests, the death of a YouTube star known as Danny Daggers. The book begins with his body being found, but then steps back a few days into the past, intertwining the lives of a plethora of characters as the events leading up to his death are explored.

I really enjoyed the way the book’s conclusion was built up. While I did think that it could have been a little shorter in length in some places, I found myself completely intrigued as to what happened. I did have my suspicions, but in no way do you never know for sure given the wide variety of characters and the jumping timeline.

Characters

I did find that, while the plot was present throughout, this book was very much about the characters. Wilks did a fantastic job of making the large cast distinctive and developing each of their individual stories until the different threads got tied together. None of the characters were in a particularly good point in their lives, each with their own demons, so it was great finding out about them and seeing how they fitted into the over-arching plot.

However, some characters were more relatable and enjoyable to read than others.  I had two favourite story-lines because of the characters involved. The first of these was the Amstell brothers due to their violent nature and family dynamics – you could never guess what they would do next. My favourite was that of Ji Eun, a Korean girl who is going work experience at the local paper, and Rory Gallagher, the journalist who takes Ji Eun under his wing. Their friendship is developed beautifully, the characters are a delight to read and I ended up looking forward to their part of the book the most.

World/Setting

The Death of Danny Daggers is described as being set in a dystopian Britain. I, however, could not see where the dystopian description came from. Instead, the book seems to be set in modern day Wales. The items on the news, references to popular culture and Danny Daggers being a youtuber seemed to be proof of this modern day setting.

Despite that, the setting really captured the dark, despondent feel of the book. With murder and a large number of down-and-out characters, you find yourself completely drawn into the world that is depicted in the pages. I also really enjoyed how it was set in Wales as I have never been there before, and it is not often that I come across a book set in the country.

Final thoughts

This is not a book for the faint of heart, or those who are disturbed by heavy alcohol and drug abuse and/or swearing. It is, however, a book that really captures the darker side of humanity and introduces the reader to a large number of interesting characters. It is sadly brought down by the first part of the book as I can see how that can turn a number of readers off, but the rest of the book is a fascinating read.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25466648-the-death-of-danny-daggers

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Danny-Daggers-Haydn-Wilks/dp/1511985550/ref=cm_cr_pr_bdcrb_top

Rosie Reviews: Lumiere by Jacqueline E. Garlick

A story filled to the brim with adventure, thrills, danger and characters that you cannot help but love.

Lumiere

Title: Lumiere

Author: Jacqueline E. Garlick

Publisher: Skyscape

Genre: Fantasy

Source: NetGalley Ebook Review Copy

Review

Summary

Lumiere is the first book in the Illumination Paradox series. It follows Eyelet Elsworth as she is forced to find the only thing that can save her life: her father’s invention – the Illuminator, an incredible invention that has been missing since the world was plunged into eternal darkness. When her mother is cruelly executed, leaving Eyelet orphaned, Eyelet finds herself thrown into an adventure far greater than she could ever imagine, teaming up with the mysterious Urlick to hunt down the missing Illuminator.

Plot

This book is as much driven by the plot as well as the characters. Neither completely takes control of the reigns so you find yourself being driven along, completely absorbed by the world you’re in, rather than finding yourself wanting for a particular side. The plot itself is fascinating and sets up well for the rest of the series. While it does end with an opening into the next book, you do feel like the story within this book was complete and I did find myself wanting to find out what happened next.

Characters

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. None of the ‘good’ characters are perfectly designed with that unnatural beauty that so often occurs in fantasy books. Instead, one protagonist has epilepsy, the other has a disfigured face. Indeed, of all the characters, only the villainous ones are in any way approaches the norm. And, to top it all off, Garlick does a fantastic job of doing this without you being aware of it. She treats the characters like people and gives them realistic personalities and emotions.

Eyelet is brilliant as a female lead. She is not overly perfect, has multiple interests, and matches Ulrick, the male lead, in terms of intellect, bravery and role in the story. Urlick does take a while to get used to, as he himself is not used to meeting new people. But with the two point of views, Garlick is able to distinguish the characters as well as demonstrate how differently two people can perceive on event.

World/Setting

The world this is set in is one plunged into darkness, one where technology can reach new heights and magic is forbidden. It is rare to find a story where magic and technology work so well together, yet this is one of those rarities. There were times where the two blended so well together, that it was near impossible to tell them apart.

This world has everything you could possibly want – magic, romance, adventure. There is a living, flying motorcycle, wraith-like zombies, and a land bordering on Hell itself. When I first started reading this book and everything began being introduced, I did feel a bit like Garlick had taken on too much. It all seemed a bit overwhelming to me. But, as the book moved on, everything slotted into place and now I can’t imagine the world she created without anything she put in – even the smallest detail.

Final thoughts

This is a brilliantly-crafted book that left me wanting more. Garlick treated all the characters with respect, so much so that I felt I could bump into anyone of them in the street – they all felt so real. The story is one that keeps you on your toes with a series of events which push the characters to the edge and over. I really loved Lumiere – the cover is beautiful, the story is excellent and I cannot wait to start reading the next one, Noir.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19448543-lumi-re

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Lumiere/9781503944558