Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Title: The Accident Season
Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Publisher: Corgi (August 2015)

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear. 
But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free? 
The Accident Season is one of those weird, little novels that people will either love or hate. I had a similar experience reading We Were Liars. Basically, I can say right off the bat that if you enjoyed We Were Liars, then you need to read this. I found them to be very similar in mood and execution.

I really don't want to say anything specific about this for fear of giving away something critical. So this is going to be a very vague review.

This novel is, at its heart, a mystery. You are not entirely sure what the hell is going on for most of the book. But I found that to be compelling and kept me reading and guessing.

There is also a focus on the relationships between characters. The one relationship is a little bit... weird. And it might make some readers a little uncomfortable. It is not the conventional romance one would expect and, while it is not strictly wrong, it still kind of is.

I know, I am doing the review version of vaguebooking and I am sorry.

I did enjoy this book. It's a different YA which diverts from the usual tropes and I think those readers who are tired of reading the same, rehashed plots would really enjoy picking this up. But, it is far from perfect and can feel a little slow, even though the book is pretty short.

I also enjoyed that it wasn't set in America and felt like it too.

If you do want something easy and less than 350 pages, give this a go.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

UrbanisedGeek Update

Hey, guys!

Welcome back to the new-look blog! I have decided I definitely need to post more reviews, but that it was also time for a fancy overhaul too.

2016 has been one hell of a year and I am sure I am not the only one who feels that way. I took a break for a while because my review pile was reaching ridiculous levels and I was getting some serious guilt over not getting to everything. I just wanted to step away from the blog for a while and just read books for the sake of enjoyment.

But, I have realised the need for dedicated reviewers, especially in South Africa! Our blogging community is growing steadily, but I am not helping anyone by stepping away indefinitely.

So I am back!

Next year, I plan to have some new features on the blog:

  • GeekEats - where I will feature awesome places to eat and drink in and around Jozi.

  • GeekMeets - where I will chat about awesome events and venues that will especially cater to the geeky crowd.

  • GeekBeats - a feature where I will showcase local and international music.
Obviously, I will keep on reviewing books and interviewing authors where possible. But it's all about getting some great new content on the blog that will hopefully open us up to a whole new audience.

I am very excited to see where this little blog goes in 2017 so please keep popping in and please feel free to comment with ideas and suggestions!

Have an awesome rest of the week! I will be back soon with some book reviews and highlights of 2016.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top 10 Best Beach Reads - 2016

Yes, folks. I have discovered Canva! Revel in my creativity!

Also, I apologise for being quiet. The past few months have been crazy busy with a new job and moving (twice!). But I plan to make up for it with this awesome, shiny blog post featuring books you should get for the upcoming holidays.

These are not necessarily 2016 releases, but more of them are fairly current and were chosen purely because they offer a fun read to get over the crazy year that is 2016.

1. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

This is one for those books that will stay with you forever. Not because it is exceptional but because everyone loves the story of an underdog challenging the status quo.

It is an easy, fast read and reminded me of teen films like She's All That and that one with Drew Barry more where she pretends to be a teen again and basically tries to have a do-over of her shitty school experience.

2. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton

This one made the list because it is the most awesomely fun and ridiculous YA historical novel I have read. Ever. It is a slightly (ok, very) tweaked retelling of Lady Jane Grey. It has humour, romance and enough action to keep the pages turning.

3. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

This one has a great, summery vibe to it. It follows Andie, the daughter of a Politician whose summer plans are thrown off kilter when her father gets involved in a scandal. Expect dogs, sunshine, romance and one of the most endearing male protagonists ever. Ever.

4-6. Recoil Trilogy by Joanne Macgregor

Recoil is the first in a dystopian YA trilogy by local author Joanne Macgregor. All three books are out, by the way, and can be ordered off Or, alternatively if you based on SA, you can contact the author directly and order a gorgeous paperback.

Jinxy is a fun heroine and the story is very fast paced with loads of actions, guns and dangerous rats!

I have included all three because once you start, you will not want to stop until you have read them all!

7. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I am offering this one up as a more adult choice for this list. Can just recommend YA, right?

Set in 1999, this is the story of a romance from afar. With Rowell's trademark writing style and humour.

It is perfect for the beach and you will absolutely love Lincoln!

8. Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

Sanctuary was a bit of a surprise read for me. I received a copy for review not knowing anything about it and I absolutely loved it.

Part romance, part ghost story, this book kept me up until late in the night! I actually don't want to say more than that other than the fact that I was reminded a little of Jane Eyre, one of my favourite books ever.

9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

So this is being made into a movie, which gives you the perfect excuse to read it before seeing the movie. It is also probably Lauren Oliver's best book.

Think Groundhog Day with a sprinkle of Clueless. It's all about how the small things can make big differences to those around you.

10. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

I love, love, love Sarah Dessen. You can probably substitute this for any of her other titles and still be golden.

This one made the list because it was the first one I read and fell in love with. Plus it takes place in summer. Plus it has romance and a whole cast of characters you will fall in love with.

...and there you have it. Now there is no excuse not to have something to read over the December break!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Weekly Roundup #1: Power Outages Make for Good Reading!

Hey everyone! 

So this is a new feature I see other bloggers are running quite successfully and I have decided to try out. 

Hopefully it will keep everyone up to date on what's happening in my world and what reviews to expect on the blog too!

What I Bought
I had a major retail itch to scratch this week! I visited this awesome second-hand bookstore in the Morning Glen Shopping Centre in Morningside, Johannesburg called Bookdealers. They had one of the best fantasy sections I have seen in a while. The shelves were packed and there was an overflow to a few tables as well.

I got myself four books I didn't have in Kim Harrison's The Hollows series for R31 each. This one of those series that has been taunting me for a while and I can happily say I own the first six books so will probably be starting it soon. My copies are pretty tatty so I predict these will be my bath reads.

I also found a copy of Dave-Brendon de Burgh's Betrayal's Shadow, the first in his fantasy series. This was a pretty big deal as the original publisher shut their doors and it went out of print for a time. I do know that copies will be available again soon  and you can easily purchase the ebook right now!

What I Read
It's been a bit of a slow week for me. I have been diligently trucking along with Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. While unique and well-written, the pacing is quite slow and it's not really ticking my boxes right now. That is not to say it's a bad book! But I have been in a reading slump so iIam going to put this aside for the moment.

I had no power yesterday, which really sucks when we are in the middle of a cold spell. I binge-read The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson while staying warm under the covers. This is the first book I have started and completed in a day in a while! So thank you Eskom! I loved it and will be reviewing it soon. :)

I am now 650 pages into my goal of 3000 pages read in July. I set this so try and ramp up my reading speed a little.I used to be so good at this!

Other Highlights
  • I watched the new Independance Day movie. It was fun but swamped with too many wishy-washy characters. If you want a plot, this is really not the movie for you.
  • I got an invite to an awesome relaunch party for Women24! Watch this space for more on that!
  • I made my first balloon animal. That is how you level up in Parenting without even having a kid!
And that's me! Looking forward to a great, busy week and hoping to read two books!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Title: Nimona
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Publisher: Harper Collins (May 2015)

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are. 
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
Noelle Stevenson first caught my eye as the illustrator of the cover for Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl.

I just loved how well she got the characters and how perfect it was for the book. I quickly discovered that she was involved in Lumberjanes, a serial graphic novel published by Boom! Studios and had written and illustrated Nimona, a standalone graphic novel.

Naturally, I was curious about Nimona in particular and was even making plans to order a copy as I doubted I would find it locally. Let's face it. South Africa kinda sucks with getting in a solid range of what is actually available across the pond.

Colour me surprised when I found a copy though! An actual copy! It was nestled in the fantasy section of Greenstone's Exclusive Books. A store I literally visit never. I hugged it and bought it and then binge read it that night.

I was struck by the story and how, in spite of it's uncomplicated premise, touching it was. Essentially, Nimona is about relationships.

I love this story. I love the LGBT theme. It's the best starter graphic novel to whet appetites for the format. Go. Get it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Giveaway: Beautiful, Broken Things

I am proud to be part of the blog tour for Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard!

 This new contemporary YA novel focuses on friendships and is a refreshing departure from romance-focused plots.

I will be reviewing the book during the course of this week, but in the meantime here is a little bit about this title as well as an opportunity to win one of 3 copies from Pan Macmillan SA!

I was braveShe was recklessWe were trouble
Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.
Sound good? Want a copy of your own?

All you have to do is mention me (@UrbanisedGeek) and share this post on Twitter! Oh, and live in South Africa of course. :)

Good luck! Winners will be drawn in the 1st June 2016 by one of my impartial rodent judges.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Title: Night Owls (The Anatomical Shape of a Heart - US title)
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon and Schuster (Aug 2015)

Feeling alive is always worth the risk. 
Meeting Jack on the Owl—San Francisco's night bus—turns Beatrix's world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive...and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. 
But Jack is hiding a piece of himself. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is.
This is one of those post-TFIOS contemporary YA novels that are so desperate to fill big shoes that John Green has left that it actually falls a little flat.

Don't get me wrong, here. I enjoyed this. I binge-read it in one evening. But I felt that while it had a hint of originality, the rest was, frankly, unmemorable.

It also fell into the same traps as TFIOS. The teens do not feel like teens. They are too world-weary and independent. The author also tries to make them quirky by giving them odd characteristics that served very little purpose in fleshing out the characters at the end of the day.

I know. I am being harsh. I don't usually write reviews like this.

If you want something shiny and new, give this a skip. But if you want a book that is written well, has a sweet romance and fun moments, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with Night Owls if you are willing to suspend your sense of reality for a while.

Fans of Everything, Everything and This Raging Light will enjoy this.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 2016: TBR Pile Challenge

Happy April everyone!

So the awesome Tammy at Book Fairy's Haven and I have decided to buddy read some well-overdue books from our TBR piles this April. Because reading is more fun when you have someone to fangirl with, am I right?

We have pulled the following three titles:

And because we don't do things in moderation, we also hope to get to these too:

  • Snow Like Ashes
  • The Young Elites
  • Rose Society
If you want to join in the bookish chat, follow Tammy (@Tammy24_7) and myself (@UrbanisedGeek) on the Twitters!

What do you have lined up for April?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Title: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher: Viking Books (January 2016)

London, April 1812.
On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London.
There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?
This is yet another review book that completely took me by surprise. I might have been drawn to that gorgeous cover, but I would probably have quickly set it back on the shelf in favour of other books.

I just have this weird repulsion for Regency books. I tried Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series but it just never really grabbed me. Though that had the Steampunk element tossed in too.

Dark Days Club, however, is an oddly compelling story. This in spite of pacing problems and a whole lot of not much going on in the first half.

Helen is charming and feisty for her day and age. Her observations of others are thoroughly entertaining and amusing to read and I adore her strong loyalty to those she holds dear.

I also felt like this book was so immersed in the setting and time-frame that there was little doubt in my mind that Goodman had researched every single element to the nth degree. It was actually rather refreshing to not question the authenticity of the world that is being presented to myself as a reader.

So if you don't mind a plot that simmers more than boils and you have a thing for great characters and settings, give this one a try!

Review: Legend by Marie Lu


Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Penguin (November 2011)

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. 
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
So I actually originally read this one two years ago and recently reread it to prepare to finish the trilogy. Embarrassingly, I see I have neglected to review it so this is going to be a bit of a mix of my original impression and my thoughts after the reread.

I also included two covers on this post as my edition is the cover on the right, which was replaced by the cover on the left when the book was reprinted in mass market paperback in the UK. I actually kinda like the original UK cover, even though it reminds me of Divergent.

Legend is a pretty standard YA dystopian, with a decently paced story and interesting characters, What I did appreciate was that Marie Lu didn't drown us in the romance aspect of the plot, but chose to run that as a side plot while she focused on the characters themselves.

June is pretty awesome. She is capable and conflicted and completely a deserving leading lady. I love that she is so mature, and yet still every bit a teenager.

Day is a bit of a cliche, however I do like him and is fierce, caring nature.

So while not entirely original, I did enjoy this a lot!

I am not going to reveal much more, as I think this is a worthy read for YA fans who love Hunger Games and Divergent.

I have also finished Prodigy, the next in the series, and will be putting my thoughts up shortly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Title: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury (August 2013)

I have decided to leave off the blurb for this review because of potentially spoiling Throne of Glass, the first book in this series.

Crown of Midnight basically kicks off shortly after the events of ToG and it really felt like one of those books that was written simply to set up book 3 in the series. There was a lot of fluff in between the revelations that made my attention wander, which is a great pity because Sarah J Maas is still one of my favorite authors.

But, let's be honest here. ToG was a tough act to follow and CoM has a very different vibe to it anyway.

I really did enjoy the slow development of the romantic plotline. The sexual tension was almost palpable in parts. I am also so crazy-fond of these characters that I can overlook the fluffy parts and keep going just to spend time in this world.

Having said that, I have just started book 3 and it's a cracker. So ignore the niggles with this book and read it to get to book 3! Because this series really kicks into high gear!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Opinion: On the Path to Feminine - How I Kickstarted my Girlification

It may sound crazy to some, but one of the hardest things I have had to accept is that at some point in my life I was am going to have to start caring how I look.

Perhaps I need to put all this into perspective for it to make sense.

Growing up, I was always a bit of a tom-boy. And by "a bit" what I really mean that I was super envious of boys. They had the best clothes, the best toys and seemingly more freedom in terms of what activities were considered "acceptable" by society. My poor mother was always trying to force me into some dress or frilly thing and the result was usually tears and me sulking in a corner longing for my SpaceJam t-shirt and shorts.

Said shirt was similar to this, but more awesome.

As a result, I had started to reject the idea of things I perceived as "feminine". I didn't want to be a typical girl and prance around in pretty dresses and have my hair done up all pretty. To add insult to injury, I developed a chronic nail-biting habit that followed me well into adulthood.

I just did not care and it felt liberating. It was a rare slice of defiance in my otherwise go-with-the-flow childhood.

Then puberty hit like a hurricane, leaving me feeling like the ugly ducking a sea of relatively image-obsessed girls. The pair of glasses I wore during this awkward phase were the kind that tinted in sunlight. The epitome of dorkdom everywhere. I thought that getting highlights would somehow make myself cooler and I realized that it was actually easier to be as unnoticeable as possible.

This worked well for the most part and I enjoyed the relative peace being unspectacular brought me. I read my books and got my kicks riding horses. Fitting in was never a key factor in my agenda.

This continued until my mid-twenties until I hit the corporate world and quickly realized that suddenly I had to start caring about what I looked like. I started grabbing desperately at the advice of others, mashing it together to form a version of myself that I was never entirely pleased with but assumed others were.

Unfortunately, I hadn't really considered my own identity and if who I wanted to ultimately be reflected what I looked like and how others perceived me. Let's face it, it's a pretty big deal when you are trying to not only figure out who you are but want to keep your self-respect in tact at the same time.

Towards the end of last year, I made the insane decision to cut off my hair. My hairdresser took a pair of clippers to my sides and back with much glee and gave me a textured fringe that, if styled indelicately, could look a little boyish. A few months later I had some highlights put in and suddenly I had a hairstyle that absolutely felt like me.

I couldn't keep dressing how I was, however. The hoodies, jeans and t-shirts combined with my new hair was a recipe for mistaken sexual orientation if ever there was one. I mean, I like P!nk, but I didn't LIKE like P!nk, you know?

I started to buy dresses. Good God, not the kind with frills and lace! Let's keep things real. I found decent, functional dresses that could be dressed up or dressed down and I found that I really, really liked wearing them. Because I had chosen them! How strange.

I started to grow up my nails with the help of Pink Armour and now keep them painted in some hue of pink / purple / blue. Once the length started coming in, a strange thing started happening. I started to not only use my hands more when I talked, but also caught myself admiring my hands and how PRETTY they suddenly were.

I was starting to feel... girly. And I liked it. A lot.

The one defining thing with this whole process was that it had all happened on my terms and my self-confidence is at record-breaking levels. And I realized there were ways and means to achieve this and still be myself at the end of the day. I could look good and STILL be my geeky self! Who knew?

Here is a list of my very basic beauty habits that have helped me. They might be logical, but they bear mentioning.

  • I use a loofah on my face without soap in the shower every evening to clear off dead skin and remove oil. Soaps can often cause more problems than they are worth, so I have been avoiding them (and acne) for the past three years. This is totally contrary to what the general thought is, but it's worked for me
  • I do regular maintenance of my eyebrows. Nobody like the Groucho Marx vibes! I pluck the tapered area under the brow to open my eyes up more and generally keep the shape neat and tidy. I discourage overplucking as this makes one look perpetually surprised. Also invest in good tweezers. Your follicles will thank you
  • Gym is now a part of my routine and seeing the results of my hard work has been such a confidence booster. Sweating also helps keep my skin nice and clear
  • A touch of make-up goes a long way. Don't coat the stuff on, but some eyeliner and a hint of lipstick makes the world of difference
  • Wear perfume. If you smell good you will feel good!
  • Don't be afraid to try new clothes, as you might find them to be more flattering than your current wardrobe and hide those part you find less desirable
  • Pore strips are your friends
Just be yourself and don't let past conceptions affect current choices!

Theatre: Queen: It's a Kinda Magic

I was privileged enough to attend the opening night of the epic Queen tribute show, It's a Kinda Magic, at Joburg Theatre last night.

I am a huge fan of Queen and some of my earliest memories related to music are associated with them. I remember when my parents broke the news about Freddie Mercury's death and how heartbroken I was. My seven year old self had big dreams of meeting the band one day.

I knew that, along with iconic bands like Nirvana, I would never be able to see Queen live and had come to terms with that, instead watching and rewatching music videos and their brilliant performances at Wembley Stadium and Live Aid.

When I heard about this show, I was cautiously excited. It takes a singer with real chutzpah to try and sing a Queen song let alone do justice to their legacy.

Bearing in mind I had also seen We Will Rock You when the international cast toured a good decade or more back. I had that experience in mind, as the vocalists honestly were not fantastic, though I did love the show overall.

Basically, Giles Taylor had pretty big shoes to fill.

While the first song was a little shaky due to sound issues, Taylor quickly hit his stride and I was completely drawn in. At times, his voice and inflections were so close to Freddie that it was almost easy to forget we weren't in 1985 seeing the master himself perform. And the show was staged perfectly, with the lighting and overall feel of a Queen performance in their heyday.

There is a lot of engagement with the audience and I spent a lot of the show on my feet clapping my hands like a maniac. It initially felt a little out of place in a theatre environment, but the audience soon forgot themselves and became part of the show themselves.

I am not going to give any spoilers regarding their setlist, bust rest assured all the favorites and a few surprises are there.

Queen: It's a Kinda Magic is worth watching and runs until the 7th February 2016 so grab your tickets now.

Ticket prices range from R160 - R200 and can be purchased here.

The Theatre does has a restaurant, Stages, which is very reasonably priced and drinks and snacks are available during intermission. There is also some awesome merchandise available for purchase.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Giveaway: Scarred by Joanne Macgregor

Welcome to the first giveaway post of 2016!

Local author Joanne Macgregor has kindly donated a PHYSICAL copy of her latest release, Scarred.

About the Book
"Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful." 

Seventeen year-old Sloane Munster is trying to reboot her life after a serious car accident left her badly scarred and emotionally traumatized.

Starting her senior year at a new school, she’s delighted to see Luke Naughton, a swimmer whom she once crushed on, in the class in front of her. But when he glares back at her with disgust and revulsion, she’s shocked and hurt, and assumes it’s because of her appearance. Despite misunderstandings, the chemistry between them sparks and love grows against a background of guilt, secrets, and mounting tensions at a school where bullying is rife and Sloane is not the most deeply scarred person.

Sharp with bittersweet humor, Scarred is an intense, beautiful, compelling story of life, death and fighting for love against all the odds.

About the Author

When not writing books, Joanne Macgregor is a Counselling Psychologist in private practice in Johannesburg, South Africa and deals mainly with victims of crime and trauma.

She started her professional life as a high school English teacher, and has also been an IT trainer, theatre dogsbody, and a “Big 4” business consultant (worst job ever!). She is a pretty good cook, which is good for her family but not for her waistline. (Goodreads Profile)

You can visit Joanne on her home on the web here.

If you would like to win a copy, leave a comment on this post with the story behind your most memorable scar.

You will get an extra bonus entry if you share this post and mention me @urbanisedgeek on Twitter.

Winners will be announced on the 31st January 2016.
Please note that this competition is only open to South African residents.

Good luck!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

click on cover to purchase

Title: Girl at Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
Publisher: Atom Books (April 2015)

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known. 
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act. 
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it. 
But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
So I read this one a while back and totally forgot to review it.

This is one of those reads that will remind you of other books, so brace yourself for that. However, you should not be discouraged from picking this up anyway.

Melissa Grey has such an enchanting way of telling her story. I loved that her world-building was not just superficial fluff and I bought into the history of her characters.

Echo is really sassy and her interactions with the rest of the cast of characters are thoroughly entertaining.

While this does not quite match up to the glory that is A Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a book if often gets compared to, I highly recommend giving it a try for a fun weekend read.

The sequel, The Shadow Hour, is due out in July this year.
You can follow Melissa on Twitter at @meligrey.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company (USA) (September 2015)

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone... 
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.  
Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.
 This is one of the best books I read in 2015. Without a doubt.

I have gotten into a monthly habit of ordering a few new releases from once a month or so as I am too impatient to wait for them to hit the local market. I suppose I could get the ebooks, but I am just not that kind of girl. I also have a huge thing for US hardcover editions because they look pretty and smell nice.

Anyway. Moving along.

Six of Crows is one of those books that was seriously hyped and came with the risk of being a huge letdown. Rest assured that this is, finally, a book worthy of all the great reviews. It is filled with a cast of awesome, unique characters, a smattering and romance and all the vibes of a fantastical version of The Italian Job (sans Mini Coopers).

I am not going to say any more as i really don't want to spoil any details.

If you are a fan of Fantasy (think Throne of Glass) then you should pick this up. I also recommend getting the US Hardcover version off Raru as it's only fractionally more expensive but is completely gorgeous with black-lined pages and quality binding.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016: The Year Ahead

Welcome to the new year everyone!

Along with some awesome personal goals to study and develop myself further, I have also resolved to focus more on my reading and the blog.

The reason for this is simple. Blogging and the opportunities it has generated for me have been some of the things have been most proud of on the past year. I also feel that in order for everything to keep thriving, I must put the time in.

I owe a lot to the great publishers and book reps who have supported me in 2015 and I will be churning out more reviews and hosting some awesome giveaways too. :)

The 2016 TBR pile
I have sorted out the books I am hoping to get through in 2016. There are 101 of them and this excludes anything I may get for review during the course of the year. There are a ton in the pile I am really keen to get started with!

Some of the TBR highlights include:

  1. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo - After reading the first book a few years ago, I was keen to wrap this series up. After reading Six of Crows, I am even more excited to get to these as that was one of my best reads last year
  2. The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas - I loved the first book and really need to get back into these as I do have all four.
  3. Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - This was one of the most raved about books in 2015 and I am really keen to get to this
  4. Queen of the Tearling - More awesome fantasy!
  5. Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raash - This was one of those random online purchases, but as this list has made quite clear, I am in a fantasy mood :D
I am also going to try not to buy books this year. I definitely have more than enough to read and also hope to save some money for studies!

So what are your goals for 2016?