Winged Reviews A UK young adult book blog for those a little bit older.

Bookish Firsts: A. J. Grainger

Bookish Firsts: A. J. Grainger

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I’m so happy to welcome debut author and friend A. J. Grainger to Bookish Firsts to celebrate the publication of her book, Captive, which was out yesterday! This cinematic YA thriller is a really entertaining read and you won’t be disappointed.

Captive by A.J. Grainger

 

Bookish Firsts

With author A. J. Grainger

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What is the first book you ever read/remember reading?
A book that my dad bought me back from the States after a work trip – but I can’t remember the name of it! Something about a bear not being sleepy and not wanting to go to bed. (Answers on a postcard, please.) I read a lot of books by Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton as well when I was younger − so The Twits and The Folk of the Faraway Tree are probably among my earliest memories of stories I loved and read over and over again.

What is the first book your wrote (can be published or unpublished)?
I wrote a book when I was about fourteen. It was a mix of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings, and it was terrible! (I know because I found it a few years ago and reread some of it.)

What is the first book you recommend to anyone you meet?
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The Secret History by Donna Tartt is usually pretty high up on the list. In fact, I recommend it whenever anyone says they fancy reading a literary thriller. My friends often say, ‘Yes, we read that one the first time you recommended it.’ It is a great book, though, with such a clever, slow build to the inevitable. It is also a brilliant study in the power of certain personalities. Plus, it contains my favourite two sentences of all time − ‘I suppose at one time in my life, I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.’ Those sentences are so clipped, so direct and yet so enticing. They have really influenced my writing. I am fascinated by that single moment when your life changes and there is no going back. For me, the best stories start in that space.

 
 

About Captive

Robyn Knollys-Green is an A-list celebrity, famous for being the daughter of one of the world’s
most powerful men. But not even the paparazzi can find her now.

Robyn begins to realise that she is trapped in a complicated web of global corruption and deceit − and that the strange, melancholy boy who has been tasked with guarding her might not be an
enemy after all… A thrilling, well-crafted, ever-relevant story from a talented new voice in YA fiction.
 
 

About A. J. Grainger

A. J. Grainger lives in London, where she works as a children’s books editor. Her first novel, Captive, was named ‘One to Watch’ by The Bookseller and was listed as one of The Telegraph’s best YA books of 2015. She is currently working on a second book. To find out more about A. J. and her writing or to recommend her books to read, find her on Twitter (@_AJGrainger) and Facebook. Her website is at www.AJGrainger.com.

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Blog Tour: Hobson & Choi Series by Nick Bryan

Blog Tour: Hobson & Choi Series by Nick Bryan

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Welcome to the blog tour for the Hobson & Choi series, including the first book The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf and the new book in the series, Rush Jobs. Author Nick Bryan talks us through his top ten series and it’s a great list. Also, read on and don’t forget to enter the tour wide giveaway below!

Guest Post from Nick Bryan

Top Ten Book Series

My dark-comedy crime book series Hobson & Choi is more serialised than a CD of the Serial podcast covered in lengthy identification numbers and buried in cornflakes, so for this blog tour post, I thought I’d run down a top ten of my favourite book series.

In order to reward serial success, I’ve only included entries where I’ve read more than one volume. Even with that rule, this proved to be a hard list to decide, but I eventually settled on an order…

#10 – The Lives Of Tao by Wesley Chu

This sci-fi action-body-possession saga started slow but had my full attention by the end of second book The Deaths Of Tao, going in some entirely unexpected directions. Excited to read not just the final book in the trilogy, but an upcoming second whole trilogy set in the same universe.

Small shout-out to Kim Curran’s Shifter trilogy here – close run between them for this spot on the list, and I’ll be there for the conclusion in Delete.

#9 – The Split Worlds by Emma Newman

This world of squabbling high-society faerie folk, highlighted by class/gender struggles and an entertaining animate gargoyle, is charming, funny and increasingly exciting throughout Newman’s first two books. Still got to read the final one (yes, I know, it’s already out, I’m getting round to it), looking forward to seeing how she concludes the current storylines, not to mention the oft-hinted future plans for the setting.

#8 – Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Is Discworld a series, or multiple interlocking series that simply share a disc? Or something entirely different? Anyway, it’s unique. Like many people, I am most partial to the Vimes/Watch books, but it’s rare not to be entertained by any given volume. Gotta recognise that kind of achievement.

#7 – The Curse Workers by Holly Black
This trilogy focuses on magic as a tool of con-artists, using their powers to take their poor unfortunate marks for even more. It lives up to that premise with twist after twist and a real sense of lingering one-mistake-and-we’re-screwed peril. First book White Cat is the highlight, but the series as a whole contains memorable characters and cliffhangers aplenty.

#6 – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Yes, The Hunger Games trilogy had a fairly transparent allegorical set-up, but more than made up for it with constant tension and visceral violence. It sealed the deal with Mockingjay, a finale which changed the tone completely by asking: “So, um, how would someone actually react to this situation?” Divided fans in the process, won my admiration (and a higher place on this list) for taking the chance.

#5 – The Skyscraper Throne by Tom Pollock

Recently read The Glass Republic, the second book in this trilogy, and was taken aback by it. The first book presented an intriguing take on London, and the sequel delved deeper into that world with style, emotion and pace. Not read the final part yet, I may just be riding high after reading the second recently, but good series. Try it.

#4 – A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin
Well, you had to know this would turn up. The epic fantasy series that hooked hordes of avid not-fantasy readers using characterisation, banter and incest. These books perhaps sprawled a little too far in the most recent two volumes, but I’m no less excited to read what happens next. Or see it, if the TV show gets there first.

#3 – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
You probably saw this guy coming as well. Harry’s grown a little over-exposed over time and there was a lot of camping in the final book, but as serialised genre adventures go, there’s a reason Potter resonated so widely. A huge immersive world, enough memorable characters for everyone to have a different favourite.

#2 – Miriam Black by Chuck Wendig
No, this series hasn’t finished yet, but I have read all three to date, and it’s great. Wry, dark, clever, thoughtful, a clear mystery emerging behind it all. To be honest, this might’ve been lower based on just the first two, but stunning third part The Cormorant shoved this over the top to become one of my favourite fictional endeavours currently ongoing. Looking forward to this year’s Thunderbird, not to mention the possible TV adaptation.

#1 – The First Law by Joe Abercrombie
Lastly and bestly, it’s Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy! A fantasy series which starts with character and finishes there too, playing with expectations and serving up wit and emotion in equal amounts. Dark humour, flashes of magic and a constant driving plot, ranging across loads of characters without ever losing clarity. One of my favourite things I’ve ever read, and I’m pretty happy that there’s another three books in the same universe out there.

Honourable mention to Abercrombie’s recent Half A King, commencing a new YA trilogy, which got off to a thrilling start. Also enjoyed the first books in Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series, plus the start of the Heartland trilogy by Wendig – if only I’d gotten round to reading the second ones, they might’ve been included above.

So there’s a load of series books I enjoyed. I’ve tended towards recent stuff, because I think that’s part of the thrill of reading series – the feeling of being carried along in the moment. If you violently disagree, or you know a series you think I’d enjoy based on the above, let me know in the comments.

About The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf

The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf by Nick Bryan

“If we get 400 followers, John Hobson will solve that nasty wolf-murder case for free! Fight the thing himself if he has to! #HobsonVsWolf!”

Angelina Choi was only trying to drum up some Twitter followers and make a good impression on her first day interning at John Hobson’s one-man detective agency.

But the campaign went viral and now they have a murder to solve, no money coming in, and an unwilling Hobson faced with battling some enormous beast.

With both follower and body counts rising, can they crack the case without offending everyone or being eaten by a huge dog?

The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf is the first case starring Hobson & Choi, a bickering, mismatched detective duo for 21st century London. This book collects the debut storyline of the hit darkly comic crime web serial, extensively rewritten and improved for this definitive edition.

About Rush Jobs

Rush Jobs by Nick Bryan

“Sometimes #crime feels like the Matrix. Or the #patriarchy or #porn. It’s everywhere, even in people you trusted, and there’s so MUCH of it.”

Angelina Choi returns for her second and final week of work experience at John Hobson’s detective agency, ready for anything after their first successful murder solve.

After all that online buzz, they’re in phenomenal demand. Can Hobson & Choi solve a kidnapping, play chicken with corporate crime, beat back gentrification, save a dog from drug dealers and head off violent backlash from their last case?

Or will grim revelations about Hobson’s past leave them floundering in the chaos?

Rush Jobs collects the second major storyline in the Hobson & Choi saga, #1 on Jukepop Serials and #2 in Dark Comedy on Amazon, adding brand new chapters and scenes to the case.

About Nick Bryan

Nick Bryan author picNick Bryan is a London-based writer of genre fiction, usually with some blackly comic twist. As well as the detective saga Hobson & Choi, he is also working on a novel about the real implications of deals with the devil and has stories in several anthologies.

More details on his other work and news on future Hobson & Choi releases can be found on his blog at NickBryan.com or on Twitter as @NickMB. Both are updated with perfect and reasonable regularity.

Subscribe to his mailing list using the form in the sidebar of NickBryan.com to get news first and an all-new free Hobson & Choi short story immediately!

When not reading or writing books, Nick Bryan enjoys racquet sports, comics and a nice white beer.

Giveaway

The Prizes
One Signed Paperback Set of the Hobson & Choi Series
Three E-Book Sets of the Hobson & Choi Series

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Release Day! Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Release Day! Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Today is the release date for the much anticipated sequel to Steelheart, FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson. To celebrate, the lovely people at Gollancz are hosting a giveaway and a chance to win a copy of both books in the Reckoners series.

Firefight

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Release: 8 January 2015
Publisher: Gollancz

From the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller author of STEELHEART, Brandon Sanderson, comes the second anticipated book in the Reckoners series, FIREFIGHT.

They told David it was impossible – that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart – invincible, immortal, and unconquerable – is dead. And he died by David’s hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realise he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic – Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

Steelheart

steelheart

From the imagination of one of the world’s biggest writers of fantasy fiction, Brandon Sanderson, comes a stunning new take on the world of superheroes.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

About Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson was born in Nebraska in 1975. Since then he has written the Mistborn series, amongst others, become a NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author and been hailed as the natural successor to Robert Jordan. Among his many novels are The Alloy of Law, The Way of Kings and the Alcatraz series. He lives in Utah with his wife.

Giveaway

To win a hardback copy FIREFIGHT and a paperback of STEELHEART, please enter using the Rafflecopter below! This giveaway is open to UK participants only.

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Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into Place by Amy ZhangFalling Into Place
Author: Amy Zhang
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date: September 2014
304 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
Genres: Contemporary
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On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

Amy Zhang started the book off in an amazing way and I was immediately pulled into the story. I sincerely wanted to know why everything was happening and what lead to Liz driving her car off of a cliff. The ultimate reason I stuck with the story was to find out who was narrating.

The way Amy Zhang wrote the book was beautiful. I haven’t felt they way about a writer’s writing style in a while. What I did not expect was how all over the place the story was. The timeline of the story went from past to present and switched points of view with each chapter. I was really confused and a little frustrated with that. I felt that made the story hard to follow and I was lost interest a couple of times. One chapter would talk about Liz’s friend’s drug addiction, while the next jumped to the topic of the boy who had a crush on Liz.

I found myself struggling to finish this book but wanted to find out the ultimate mystery – who was narrating??!! The mystery narrator was ever-present but unnamed until the very end. It seemed that all of Liz’s friends and mom seemed to figure themselves out and solve their problems during the first day she was in the hospital. Not sure I truly believed that. It just seemed too sunshine & rainbows and not really doable by the way the story was going. Liz’s friends were really too messed up to solve their issues in such a short time. When it came time to reveal out who the narrator was, I was more than let down. I sat the book down and said, “REALLY?! That is who was telling they story?! Ugh.”

Overall, I was let down with the one. I was super excited to read the ARC but was left wanting. The writing style was amazing but not the timeline of the story. It was hard to follow and I wanted to quit at least three times. With that being said, I am still excited to read what else Ms. Zhang publishes and will give her another chance.

2.5 Stars

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New Blogger: Sara!

New Blogger: Sara!

Happy 2015 everyone! As I mentioned in my last post, I have been looking for a new co-blogger for some time and I’m pleased to finally introduce you all to Sara!

Sara and I got to know each other on Twitter. I noticed she had similar tastes in books and I enjoyed reading her reviews, so I got in touch to see if she would be interested in being a part of Winged Reviews. Thankfully she was, so here she is with a little something to say to you all:
 

My name is Sara and I live in the great, hot state of Texas with my new fiancee and our two cats, Figaro and Bacon. Thankfully my fiancee fully supports my love of reading and writing reviews. I am not sure how I got so lucky.

My love for reading started young with a book my mother gave me by Mary Higgins Clark called All Around The Town and I really enjoyed the complexity of the characters. To this date I own nearly everything Mary Higgins Clark has ever published and she will always be one of my favorites. I was unfamiliar with the writing styles outside of this one author’s collection I had so that caused me to lose interest in reading for a long time. That all changed when I stumbled upon the infamous Harry Potter series. The amazing series about a boy who was a wizard brought me out of my reading dry spell and I haven’t stopped since. The Harry Potter series made me realize that YA was not just for teenagers, it was for anyone who loved a good story. This also brought me into the genre of Young Adult.

I read the Twilight series on the recommendation from a former co-worker, which led to The Hunger Games, which lead to more and more and more. I have come to realize I favor trilogies/series, dystopian, contemporary, and high fantasy books. Plus if it deals with angels, heaven/hell, or vampires, I will probably read it. I do appreciate stand-alone books of all genres and that has caused my TBR list to grow. There really are so many good books out today – teen, NA, MG, or YA – that are meant for anyone who is after a good story. That’s what books do for me – they help me escape for a little bit and realize that everything will be okay in the end.

I am very excited to be a part of Daphne’s blog and hope everyone enjoys my reviews. Thank you for giving me this opportunity!
 

Thank you Sara! You can follow Sara on Twitter and Instagram. Hope you all give her a warm welcome in the comments below and you’ll see some of her reviews on the blog very soon!

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