Sticky: I’m looking for Harry Potter fans! [Harry Potter Month]

Okay all, so I have this idea, but I need some help for it…Inspired by Rinn’s sci-fi month, (which I LOVED participating in) I’ve decided to take the plunge and try and organise a blog event for something I’m a huge fan of – Harry Potter. So, this is the announcement/gauging interest post for….

Harry Potter month
July 2014

Read the full post »

‘Fessing up: On slimming (or not slimming!) with the enemy…

You may remember that once upon a time, I posted quite a few recipes on StudentSpyglass, all with weight watchers ProPoints values.  They were pretty popular, and my spicy rice recipe is one of my most popular posts, so you may be wondering why I stopped posting recipes.  Well, it’s time for a confession…

When I started work on my dissertation last summer, Weight Watchers went out the window.  And THEN, once I had my gallbladder out at the end of last year…well, to be honest I just went a bit crazy indulging in all the high fat foods that had previously been off limits to me!

Now, my mum has started going to Slimming World….and I’ve been going with her (hence the slimming with the enemy title).   BUT, we’ve been going for 12 weeks now, and I have to admit, I just haven’t really been trying.  I stick to it reasonably well, lose a bit, then visit Matt, have big student nights out, and gain it all back (and then some!). Plus, I indulged obscenely over Easter weekend!

In 12 weeks, I have lost a grand total of 7.5 lbs

I know if I hadn’t been going I would have gained those 7.5 lbs, or probably more, because we’d still have had the parties and the nights out, but they wouldn’t have been balanced out by my attempting to be good.  But still, 7.5 lbs is pretty pathetic, and so I’m owning up to it, and hoping that being accountable will make me stick to it more!

For those of you who are curious about how Slimming World works, I’m following the Extra Easy plan, which pretty much works as follows:

  • Superfree foods: this is your fruit and veg (with a few exceptions) – 1/3 of each meal should be made up of these
  • Free foods: The list of free foods is pretty huge.  All lean meats, potatoes, pasta, baked beans, rice, noodles, eggs, certain yoghurts…You can eat unlimited portions of these, but since I know portion control is part of the problem, I usually still weigh rice/pasta before cooking (else I end up cooking enough for 8 instead of four!).
    Free foods make up the bulk of your diet
  • Healthy Extra A: These are your dairy products – cheese, milk etc. You get different amounts depending on fat percentages etc.
    You get one of these per day.
  • Healthy Extra B: This is your fibre (and one of the areas I struggle with!). This is for brown bread, certain cereals, and various other things like crispbreads etc – but honestly, I just use them for the cereal or bread!
    Again, you get one of these per day

On top of those foods, you get syns. These are basically the bits you have to count, the equivalent to Weight Watchers weekly points. You can have up to 15 syns per day, and I tend to use them all! Here’s a few examples of things I like to spend my syns on:
- A freddo (5 syns)
- Mini eggs x 8 (6 syns)
- Lemon curd on toast (2.5, using the bread as my Healthy Extra B)
- Cadbury’s Options (2 syns)
- Rose wine (6 syns per 175ml)
- Jack Daniels (3 syns 25ml)
- A crumpet (4 syns plus toppings)

Now let’s be honest, the plan isn’t exactly rocket science, and it’s fundamentally very similar to Weight Watchers, I just need to stick to it!  I like the fact that your Healthy Extras are separate from syns, because on Weight Watchers I would never want to pay the syns for milk/cheese, but I don’t find the meetings as helpful.  Now that I’ve signed up to do the 5k in June and am making an effort to get healthier, I’d like to better in terms of food (and hopefully weight loss) too, so I’m signing up for another 12 weeks at Slimming World and aiming to lose more than 7.5 lbs this time! As Thursdays have always been a bit of an unscheduled day anyways, from now on, I’m hoping to use them to keep me accountable and motivated.  Whether it’s a slimming world recipe, a check-in after my weigh in, or something else entirely, look for something slimming inspired on Thursdays from now on!

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog (Anne Blankman)

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog Amazon | Goodreads

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

Author: Anne Blankman
Length: 416 pages
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Series: Yes #1 in Prisoner of Night and Fog

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★

I was really anxious about starting Prisoner of Night and Fog because I’m still working my way out of a reading slump caused, in part, by reading The Book Thief at a time when I wasn’t feeling it.  While I’ve loved a few historical fiction novels (most notably Conn Iggulden’s Conqueror series) I’m not a huge fan of the genre, and so I was worried Prisoner of Night and Fog would send me spiralling back down into my slump.  To be honest though, I think it’s helped boost me back out!  Prisoner of Night and Fog hooked me from the very first page, and I couldn’t put it down – something that hasn’t happened with a book in weeks!

 

The storyGretchen Muller lives in 1930s Munich, the daughter of a martyr who died to save her Uncle Dolf – Adolf Hitler.  She worships her Uncle Dolf, the charismatic man with the voice like chocolate, the man who always looks out for her and the one adult she knows she can trust.  When a Jewish reporter seeks her out, telling her that her father was in fact murdered, Gretchen is still shaken up from watching a brutal beating of a Jew, and just about unsure enough to listen to what he has to say.  From that moment on, Gretchen begins to see things in a different light and to wonder about the views of a man she has always loved and followed.

Now first of all, I have to say I’m not a huge history buff, and I don’t speak a word of German, so in terms of technical accuracy, I couldn’t comment.  What I can say is that I loved the characters and the plot, and the writing took a story that could have been dark and depressing to twisted but gripping.

There are a lot of different threads to this book, but it never felt cluttered.  Obviously, the story follows Adolf Hitler, and Gretchen’s slow doubt of his manifesto.  As well as that, there’s a budding romance, the mystery surrounding the death of Gretchen’s father and the difficult relationships Gretchen faces at home. The threads flowed seamlessly throughout the book, and there was no one thread that dominated – I was curious about them all!  My only complaint about Prisoner of Night and Fog was that I felt the resolution of Gretchen’s father’s death was a bit anti-climactic.

 

The characters
There’s quite a cast of characters, and they aren’t all likeable but they are all fascinating. Gretchen Muller, our protagonist, is a feisty young girl who has been through her father’s death and a difficult home life but is fundamentally a survivor. Daniel Cohen is the dedicated young Jewish journalist, determined to root out the truth. As well as those two, we also have Gretchen’s mother, her cruel elder brother, her best friend Eva and Hitler’s niece Geli. The characters are a mixture of real historical figures and fictional, but the two blend together seamlessly.

Blankman’s portrayal of Hitler is brilliantly done. Although you know the reality, the beginning of the book manages to portray him as Uncle Dolf, the charming, devoted family friend Gretchen loves. As Gretchen slowly begins to question him, more and more of his other side is revealed, and the way his portrayal changes is fascinating. Although in this case we’re reading about a character who thinks of moving away from Hitler, the slow gradual way this is done makes it easy to imagine in reverse.

 

final thoughtsPrisoner of Night and Fog is not exactly a beach read – although the writing makes it very easy to caught up, the story is still fundamentally dark and creepy. A sense of fear, mystery, and urgency permeate the writing, and had me flicking through quickly, desperate to reach the end. Although I raced through it on first read, I can imagine re-reading it more slowly, really savouring the story and looking more carefully for key moments.

Buy it? This is one worth buying for me.
In a nutshell: A fantastically atmospheric, desperately gripping debut.

Other Reviews of Prisoner of Night and Fog: Dark Faerie Tales | Inspiring Insomnia | Book Blog Bake

The Weekly Recap (#14)

This week on the blog

Incoming



The 57 lives of Alex Wayfare [Purchased]
A Discovery of Witches [Review copy]
Shadow of Night [Review copy]
The Twelve Kingdoms: The Mark of the Tala [NetGalley]
Just what kind of mother are you? [NetGalley]
The Queen of the Tearling [NetGalley]

Total spend this week: £5.59



My Week

I have had a lovely, (if slightly busy) week this week.  Matt came home from uni last weekend, so we’ve spending lots of time together.  I also only had a short week at work (three days), and I’m off completely next week until Matt goes back to uni.

Highlights this week:

  • Going to see Captain America 2 with Matt
  • Going to see Spider-Man 2 with some friends
  • Easter lunch & chocolate eggs
  • Dyeing my hair red – remember how I dip dyed it red last week? Changed my mind and went back to the hairdressers, it’s now TOTALLY red. We went darker than my target colour because my hair fades ridiculously fast because it’s been bleached & highlighted for years, so it’s very dark right now but I’m optimistic about how it will turn out once I’ve washed it…


Reading

Completed: Echo Boy

Started: Prisoner of Night and Fog [25%]

Challenge Progress

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Faith has
read 19 books toward her goal of 100 books.
hide
  • Seriously Series:
    • Series Started in 2014: 7/18
    • Series Started before 2014: 3/18
  • Library Books challenge: 6/36
  • LGBTQ: 1/3
  • TBR Pile Reading challenge: 3/31
  • Review Pile Reading Challenge: 10/31

How was your week?

Review: Echo Boy (Matt Haig)

Review: Echo Boy Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (From Goodreads.com)

Audrey’s father taught her that to stay human in the modern world, she had to build a moat around herself; a moat of books and music, philosophy and dreams. A moat that makes Audrey different from the echoes: sophisticated, emotionless machines, built to resemble humans and to work for human masters. Daniel is an echo – but he’s not like the others. He feels a connection with Audrey; a feeling Daniel knows he was never designed to have, and cannot explain. And when Audrey is placed in terrible danger, he’s determined to save her. The Echo Boy is a powerful story about love, loss and what makes us truly human

 

Author: Matt Haig
Length: 320 pages
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Series: No

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★
Overall: ★★★

In a world dominated by technology, and changed almost beyond recognition by global warming, echoes have almost become part of the landscape.  Enhanced flesh and bone robots built to look and sound like humans, echoes are used for anything from household chores to manual labour.  Finally, after much coaxing, Audrey’s famously anti-echo father agrees that they can have a household echo of their own, to help with Audrey’s schooling mostly.  Audrey has always been a little creeped out by echoes but she has no idea just how much her world is about to be changed by one.

I really really wanted to love Echo Boy. I raved about Matt Haig’s last novel, The Humans, to anyone who would listen and it was one of my favourite books of last year.  Even without knowing Echo Boy was written by Matt Haig though, it was a blurb I would have been unable to resist.  So, a great blurb and an author whose work I’d previously loved – sounds like a guaranteed winner right?  Well…yes and no.

I loved Daniel – an echo who isn’t quite like the other echoes.  He shouldn’t feel anything, he should just obey orders, pretty much mindlessly.  Despite that, he can’t quite defy his need to protect Audrey, to save her from the danger he knows she is in.  Although the bulk of the story is from Audrey’s point of view, we have a few chapters from Daniel’s which really help you get inside his head.

Audrey is a fifteen year old girl, facing grief and fear, forced to question everything she believes.  She’s been raised by a very publicly anti-echo father who believes that eventually there will be an echo uprising.  She is now faced with her uncle, who profits substantially from echoes and believes they are a great thing.  But for the first time, Audrey is now beginning to question her own feelings about echoes, and I loved reading about her struggle to find her own opinion.  Despite the terrible events throughout the book, Audrey is a pretty normal teenager – she makes mistakes, she takes a while to figure things out, she has mood swings and self-confidence issues.  Those little flaws made her feel three-dimensional and easy to relate to.

Whilst I really liked Audrey and Daniel separately, I wasn’t sold on the romance in Echo Boy.  It felt almost like there was no real relationship and then a sudden tipping point, and although I could believe the bond between the two, I didn’t really feel like there was any chemistry.  The two go through a lot in the book, but the relationship almost felt just like a devoted friendship.

From Rosella to the Neanderthals, from Iago to 15, I loved the supporting characters.  Matt Haig managed to create a diverse background of individuals, with their distinct personalities and flaws, each of whom had their own parts to play, rather than feeling like random extras.

The world-building is fantastic in some areas – the effects of climate change for one thing are wonderfully done.  I could perfectly picture Audrey’s stilt-house, Alex Castle’s home, the Resurrection Zone and the protestors.  Whilst those physical elements were clear, I found it difficult to exactly quantify the echoes, and a lot of my complaints are the same as those in Ellie’s review.  Are the echoes androids or cyborgs or something else altogether? As Ellie pointed out, the echoes seem almost identical to humans, but the abuse of echoes is pretty much just accepted.  I guess I’m just not quite sure why, in a world with such advanced technology, the echoes would have been created. It seems as though advanced androids could have been made to do the same job (or near enough) without causing the protests and moral debates that must have cost echo manufacturers money and generally been a PR disaster.  I’m not sure how the first echo designer would have been given ethical approval, and I would have liked to hear more about how and why the echoes were implemented. I expected more of an ethical/moral dilemma based on the blurb, and felt like this could have been explored more, but perhaps the action was focused on more because Echo Boy is YA.

I did enjoy Echo Boy, but I also think it’s a prime example of how hype can do a book a disservice.  For me it was a solid three-star read, so it wasn’t a bad book by any means, it’s just that, because I so loved The Humans, I had such high expectations that I can’t help feeling a little disappointed.  Sadly, this fell into the same category as Pawn – one of those dystopians with a great premise that just fell slightly flat.  Still well worth a read and if a sequel is announced, you can guarantee I’ll be reading it.

Buy it? This is one I’d either buy on a deal or borrow.
In a nutshell: An intriguing premise and great characters, I liked it but found it slightly disappointing.

Other Reviews of Echo Boy: Being Anne | Mab is Mab | Ashley James

April check in: Goals and word of 2014

Is it me or has this year just flown by?! I was just thinking ‘I should probably post a goals check-in soon’, and then I looked at the calendar (well okay, Excel) and realised that we’re 107 days into 2014. 107! Almost a third of the way through!

So, admittedly, this check-in is at a slightly weird point – not quite a third of the way through the year, but more than a quarter, randomly in the middle of the week….but it felt like a good time to check-in, so I’m ignoring the slightly strange date! Plus, seeing how far I’ve got (or not got), is always motivational, and I’m feeling ready for a kick up the….well, y’know.
Now, I’ll be honest, at first I couldn’t even remember what my goals of 2014 were, so I had to go look them up (probably not a great sign). To refresh your memory too:

Get my NetGalley feedback to approval ratio above 80%

Current: 53.2%
Honestly, I’m really pleased with my progress on this so far. I know to a lot of you, 53% looks really low, but considering I had an enormous backlog and started the year with something pathetic like 18%, I’m pretty pleased with my progress! 80% still feels a long long way off, but as long as I keep going in the right direction, (and keep the requesting sprees to a minimum!) I’m okay with that.

 

Read at least 100 books

Current: 19 books
I genuinely don’t know what’s been going on with my reading the last month or so. For January and February I was doing okay, but somewhere along the way I hit a total wall, and am yet to get my reading mojo back to normal. I’m waiting for things to click back into place (as they inevitably do), but if I’m still really behind for my mid-year check-in I I might have to reduce my goal a bit.

 

Read 45,000 pages

Current: 7088
Er, see above for this one too!

 

Read 12 books off my 101 Fantasy Project

Current: 3
Woohoo, I’m vaguely on target for this one! I’m thinking of trying to break my reading slump with some great fantasy, as it’s my go-to genre of choice, so hopefully I can tick one more off here soon too.

 

Write 75 reviews

Current: 20
This has been going pretty well so far, and I think I should hit my target. January was particularly great and I’m hoping for another month that good in May.

 

Branch out more

I think this is one I’m accomplishing. From my word of the year 2014, to filofax postsbookish drinking games and posts like now and then, I’m slowly diversifying, which I love.

 

Change my layout

Not yet, BUT I have a defence…I’ve been looking into renaming StudentSpyglass, and working on ideas for a new layout that fit with the new name, so obviously I can’t implement it yet!

 

Be healthier

This is one I’m doing okay with. I’ve lost 8lbs, which isn’t huge but it’s a start. I’m also mostly eating less junk food, and doing a little exercise. (Although I fully admit I’m eating an Easter egg as I write this, because they were a £1 and my family are celebrating being free from work for a few days!)

 

Find a job & save towards my MSc

Well, I found a job (back doing the same temp work I was doing before Christmas). So far, I’ve managed to pay my 10% deposit, and pay off my overdraft, but that’s about it, so still a long way to go on the savings front, but I’m definitely making progress.

 

Get organized

Well…..January was fantastic, February was great, March was okay, but April….April has been a disaster! (I’m starting to notice I’m kind of an all or nothing person! Reading, blogging, scheduling, being healthy and being organised – they all seem to have gone out the window at once!). However, I’ve got ideas and plans, so fingers crossed I can make some headway on those and get back to being organised.

 

My word of 2014

fearless

As well as my goals, I wanted to check in on how I’ve been doing with my word of 2014, which was fearless. So, how have I been getting on? Pretty damn well actually! Here are a few of the fearless things I’ve done so far this year, that the ‘normal’ me would have balked at:

  • Signed up to the Race for Life (5k)
    • I’m about as unfit as a sloth.  In fact, that’s an insult to the sloth.  Maybe a dead sloth… Anyways, the point is, despite that, I’ve decided to sign up to the Race for Life – and I’m hoping to jog it, even though right now I can jog for about 30 seconds.  I have 9 weeks to fundraise and train, so any hints and tips greatly appreciated!
  • Requested review copies
    • Again, to some of you this is probably no big deal, but my review copies before this year came almost exclusively from NetGalley.  I haven’t requested many (and I haven’t had responses on everything I requested) but I’ve been branching out and requesting a few and it has been so worth it!
  • Dyed my hair a very different colour!
    • Until this year, my hair has been light blonde.  Like, forever, apart from one horrific incident when I experimented with brown that should probably never be talked about….  Last week I went totally different – the top is now very dark blonde (virtually brown) and the tips are red.  I maybe wasn’t fearless enough though, because I’ve decided to go back this weekend and go red all over!  Pre-2014 me would never have even dreamed of going so bold.

How are your 2014 goals going?  (And do you have any tips for a super-unfit me to survive 5k?!)

 

Now and Then

You’re possibly wondering where I’ve been for the last week or so….and honestly, so am I! I’d love to give you a great explanation but to be honest I’ve just been absurdly busy and still haven’t shaken my blogging/reading slump.  BUT I loved reading the Now and Then feature on Celine’s blog, and so I couldn’t resist joining in.  Some of the questions were easy, some were fun, and some reminded me just how grateful I am for the changes I’ve gone through in the last five years!

Then: 2009 (age 17)
Now: 2014  (age 22)

Location//
Then: Finishing up my A-Levels, working towards my university offer
Now: Graduated (from a different uni with a different subject!), saving for my MSc

Attitude//
Then: Insecure, scared of commitment, perfectionist
Now: More confident, happy in love, just as determined as ever!

Dreams//
Then: Clinical psychologist
Now: Animal conservation

Hair//
Then: Blonde, shoulder length, straightened
Now: (As of Saturday)…Red! curled (when I can be bothered), full fringe

Watching//
Then: Skins, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The OC,
Now: Once Upon a Time, Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory

Crushing on//
Then: James Marsters, Tom Felton,
Now: Chris Hemsworth, Alexander Skarsgard, Ian Somerhalder

Free time//
Then: TV, fanfiction, reading, karate, hanging out with friends, The Sims,
Now: Reading, blogging, cinema with friends, diving,

Listening to//
Then: Linkin Park, Greenday, My Chemical Romance, Dashboard Confessional
Now: Linkin Park, Paramore, Taylor Swift, Sam Tsui

Reading //
Then: Almost entirely fantasy
Now: Fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, YA, NA

Favourite authors//
Then: Jodi Picoult, David Eddings, Robin Hobb
Now: David Eddings, Robin Hobb, Maria V. Snyder, George R.R. Martin, Mira Grant

Where I got my books//
Then: Library, birthday gifts
Now: Library, purchased, review copies, gifts,

Time spent reading//
Then: A couple of hours at the weekend, on the bus to school
Now: Every spare moment!

What’s different in your life compared to 5 years ago? What are the best or biggest changes?

Tour & Giveaway: Opposites (T.M. Smith)

As a lover of both dystopia and LGBT fiction, I couldn’t resist joining in the tour for Opposites - you have to admit, that blurb sounds very intriguing! If you’d like to be in with a chance to win a copy or an amazon voucher, scroll down to the bottom and click onto the Rafflecopter link! (And yes, it’s International too!)

Opposites_Tour_Banner

OPPOSITES:
In the year 2081 our planet survived global warming of an apocalyptic scale. When the dust settled and the water receded Dr. Anthony Smith, one of only a few hundred survivors of GWI, started society anew. Having come to the conclusion that injudicious breeding played a huge role in the destruction of Earth as we knew it in the twenty first century, he worked closely with other survivors to isolate the Dionysus gene. This gene has the ability to manipulate human DNA to ensure that all male children be born gay, and all female children be born lesbians. A new society is born.

In the year 2300 Dr. Smith’s descendants are ushering in the twenty fourth century having maintained control of the government that still rules society. Twins Aiya and Aiyan are preparing to meet their matches and take control of House Gaeland, the current ruling House. But not everything is as it seems.

Love is Love.. it knows no gender and doesn’t conform to restrictions and boundaries. Aiyan has found his soul mate in Kaden, the prince of House Devi that he is matched with and eventually marries. But when the person Aiya falls in love with tests the boundaries put in place after GWI, all hell breaks loose. And in the midst of one secret unraveling, another will emerge. There is a growing anomaly that threatens to destroy over two hundred years of progression. This anomaly is known as Opposites.

THE LIBRARY (An Opposites Novella)
The Library, an Opposites Novella, by TM Smith
Three gay couples run amuck in this short story where clothing, beds, even four walls are all optional! 

Want to know what happened that night in the library?
Cirian and Rian had a fight in the library and Rian ends up naked on the desk, on his back, at Cirian’s mercy. 

Want to know how far things went with ice cream?
A romantic evening by the fire feeding his husband ice cream leads to a lot more than heavy petting for Aiyan and Kaden.

Want to know what was going on when those birds fled?
Travelling hundreds of miles, battling the rebels and then travelling back to House Gaeland will take it out of you. But when Tanis wants something, he takes it. Raven is about to be bent over a tree!

A Note from the Author: I’ve taken three scenes from Opposites that were cut short and elaborated on the shenanigans that ensued. I also focused more in the beginning on the relationship between Cirian and Rian, to give readers a chance to know them and their inner workings better. 

**Warning, The Library is a novella set in the same world as Opposites. It’s an adult dystopian M/M novella that includes consenting and explicit sexual relationships between gay couples**

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A military brat born and raised at Ft. Benning Georgia; Smith is an avid reader, reviewer and writer. She now calls Texas home from her small town on the outskirts of the DFW Metroplex. Most days you can find her curled up with her kindle and a good book alongside a glass of something aged and red or a steaming cup of coffee!

At 42 years young, she’s decided to enter the next phase of her life by adding the title of “author” to her list of accomplishments that includes single mom of three disturbingly outspoken and decidedly different kids, one of which is Autistic. Smith is and outspoken advocate for Autism and equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

Her Opposites series is based outside the normal parameters of social acceptability, examining a ‘what if’… What If to be gay or lesbian were the norm? What if to be straight labeled you as an Opposite and made YOU the Outkast?

Around the web: Author’s Amazon page | Author’s website
Goodreads: Opposites | GoodReads author page
Social media: FacebookAuthor Twitter | Pinterest | Youtube


GIVEAWAY:

Terms:
Must be 18 + to Enter

Prizes:
1 winner (International) ~ $20 giftcard winners choice (Amazon or B&N) to be delivered electronically at the time the giveaway ends
1 winner (US only) ~ ebook copies of Opposites and The Library, 2 bookmarks, Opposites book thong and spiral key chain
1 winner (US only) ~ NOH8 tote bag, Celtic Cross necklace, 2 bookmarks and The Library key chain
1 winner (International) ~ ebook copy winners choice Opposites OR The Library, 2 bookmarks

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Sea of Shadows (Kelley Armstrong)

Review: Sea of Shadows Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (From Goodreads.com)

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

 

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Length: 416 pages
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Series: Age of Legends #1

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★

I was really intrigued by Sea of Shadows, because the blurb sounded amazing.  I was a little apprehensive too though, because while I loved Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series to begin with, I’ve yet to make any progress with Haunted because I found it quite slow to begin with.

Moria and Ashyn have grown up knowing that their role is to quiet the souls that live in The Forest of The Dead.  After chaos erupts in their village, Moria and Ashyn are separated, and the two set off on a quest to find each other – and to figure out just what happened to their village.

The premise of Sea of Shadows was amazing, and I absolutely loved the beginning.  I loved the Forest of the Dead, learning about the twins, and the truly eerie atmosphere Armstrong created when the village is found devastated.  I found some of the middle a little slower going, but the story soon picked up again, and overall I really enjoyed the plot.

Sea of Shadows flicks back and forth between Moria and Ashyn’s point of view, but as the twins are so very different in personality, it’s easy to keep track of who’s chapter it is.  Moria is the feisty, short-tempered Keeper.  She scares the children with tales of mythical monsters – and they love her for it.  Ashyn is the quieter, more responsible Seeker.  It’s her job to go into the Forest of the Dead, locate bodies of the dead and put their spirits to rest.  I enjoyed both characters, and the two had a really interesting relationship – not too sugary-sweet, but still fundamentally loyal and good.  I also especially loved the girls’ pets.  Moria’s wildcat Daigo, Ashyn’s hound Toga, were great and the girl’s relationship with their pets made them that much more likeable.

I found Sea of Shadows a little strange genre-wise at first, because the beginning is pretty damn creepy (for me at least, though I admit to being a wimp!), whilst the rest is more of a standard fantasy-adventure.  Although I found the mix a little strange to begin with,  I enjoyed it overall – think a YA fantasy adventure with some creepy elements in the same sort of vein as the  Game of Thrones White Walkers.

My only real complaint with Sea of Shadows was the world-building, which I found a little lacking.  For a long time, I had only the vaguest sense of what Ashyn and Moria were supposed to do, or how.  Whilst some mystery can be a good thing, this went on a little too long so instead of feeling like intionally building intrigue it sometimes felt more like an accident.   While I found the world-building a little disappointing, I enjoyed the plotline and the characters, and I think the series has great premise, so I’ll definitely be checking out book two.

Buy it? This is one worth buying for me, but I’d probably buy it on a deal.
In a nutshell: Great premise and interesting characters – a very promising start to an exciting new series.

Other Reviews of Sea of Shadows: Dark Faerie Tales | My library in the making | The Diary of A Bookworm

The Weekly Recap (#13)

This week on the blog

Incoming

Nothing!

Total spend this week: £0



My Week

When you look at my weekly recap, it almost looks like I haven’t been here, but I have, honest!

This week, I’ve spent my evenings watching Once Upon a Time, and we’ve just finished season 1.  I spent a lot of time reading fanfics, and actually signing up for challenges again for the first time in years!

Other than that, I haven’t really done much.  I got a not-too-pathetic amount done blog wise, but the Monster Thons turned out to be a total failure for me this week!  I’ve spent so much time reading fanfiction, I haven’t really read anything else. Oops?!


Reading

Still Reading: Echo Boy [45%]

Challenge Progress

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Faith has
read 19 books toward her goal of 100 books.
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  • Seriously Series:
    • Series Started in 2014: 7/18
    • Series Started before 2014: 3/18
  • Library Books challenge: 6/36
  • LGBTQ: 1/3
  • TBR Pile Reading challenge: 3/31
  • Review Pile Reading Challenge: 9/31

How was your week?

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