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

Pokemon Go Book Tag!

Pokemon Go Book Tag!

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The Pokemon Go book tag was created by readatmidnight. Following the extremely popular release and play of Pokemon Go, I thought I’d participate as I LOOOOOVE Pokemon Go!

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I’ve always loved reading, and my parents used to read to me when I was younger, but my favourite books when I was small were the Rainbow Magic books which is a series all about fairies and two human girls. I started reading them when the first series was out, but the series is now MASSIVE.

Side note: When I started the game, I chose Charmander! What did you choose?

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My answer is pretty obvious, but Harry Potter will always be one of my favourites and I would consider it a classic, even if all of the series was written and released in my lifetime. One thing is for sure, it is definitely iconic.

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For me, this book is Twilight. I have actually read the whole series, as I read Breaking Dawn before the Twilight movie actually came out, but among other reasons, I totally interest in Twilight because the books were absolutely everywhere and especially because of the movie release!
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Zenith reminded me of a few books as there were quite a few comparisons to other characters and story lines, but I’d say I only like it, no where near love!

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This would be the Mortal Instruments series, with the two surrounding series as well, the Infernal Devices and the Dark Artifices. The series is just huge to me, especially when including the prequel/sequel series’. Perhaps I’ll marathon them soon!pokemon-tag06-gengar

I don’t tend to stay up really late reading just because I get so tired, but the obvious would be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I stayed up so late reading this one as it’s so fast paced and obviously I want to know how it, and the series, ended!

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Hate getting into this sort of thing because ‘ship wars’, but Anna and Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss, and..Celaena and Chaol from the Throne of Glass series. I’m sorry, but I have been rooting for this since the beginning and I cannot drop it now.

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Oooooh, there are so many, but one book I recently read had me really turning the pages and eager to know what would happen next. That book is These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly! It’s a historic mystery set in early 1900’s New York. Just everything about it is amazing!

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I don’t read very much historical fiction at all, which is funny as I’m, ya know, a history student!! But the first book I did read from this genre was A Mad, Wicked Folly and I LOVED it. Seriously loved it. Not to mention I share a name with the main character but god, was it good! If I could, I would recommend it to everyone!

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Does the A Court of Thorns and Roses series count? I know it’s only three books and the third hasn’t come out yet, but SO many people talk about Sarah J. Maas’ books (which I love btw), and this is a series that I still haven’t got too yet because I am a slow bookworm, but I’m still so excited to read it and see what it’s all about!

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I would love a first edition of Harry Potter, there is no denying the want for that.

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I’ve heard a lot of great things about The Star-Touched Queen, which came out earlier this year but I haven’t had chance to read it yet. I’ve just bought the book with some money I received for my birthday last week, so hopefully it arrives soon!

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Sarah J. Maas, Marissa Meyer and Stephanie Perkins! Also, Emery Lord. I knew there would be a few for this!

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I feel like the servers go down allllll the time for Pokemon Go, especially last week. It seems a little better, but it’s always around dinner time here in the UK that it goes down for me and my friends! Anyway, this book for me is probably Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I feel like it’s been forever since the news was released that she was going to be writing it. Release date cannot come quick enough. And another author who falls into this is Sarah J. Maas (duh, this is definitely a ‘see how many times you can fit Sarah into this post’ after all..). I feel like I’m waiting forever for Empire of Storms but that’s my own fault seeing as I blasted through the first four books in the series last Summer!

 

So there you have it, this is my completed Pokemon Go book tag! So much fun! If you’re reading this then reader, I TAG YOU!

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Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay CummingsZenith
Author: Lindsay Cummings, sasha alsberg
Series: Androma Saga #1
Publisher: Self-published
Date: 21/06/2016
62 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Buy the BookGoodreads

There is darkness sweeping across the stars.

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness: a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her fearsome glass starship the Maurader, she’s just Andi, their captain and protector.

When a routine mission goes awry, the all-girl crew’s resilience is tested as they find themselves in a most unfamiliar place: at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter connected to Andi’s past and a harrowing betrayal.

Meanwhile, on the far side of the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The final pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship—or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles towards the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only thing certain is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

There are a few things I’d like to state before getting into this review. First of all, I am still hovering between 2.5 and 3 stars with this book. Secondly, it is only the beginning of this story – it is serialised, however it hasn’t been announced when the second instalment will be out.

So my review.

Well, this was not totally what I was expecting. In fact, I think I expected more. With there being so much hype surrounding this, and so many people screaming for joy when it came out, I expected amazing things however I was disappointed. There were similarities to other stories (eg. ‘Stars Above’ – Marissa Meyer book title right there!) and it was very, very descriptive. I feel like I read 62 whole pages of description.

I can appreciate this is a serialised novel meaning that we get the story in parts but for me, this first part needed to be longer. I didn’t really feel that engaged with it and I really struggled to keep my attention on it. In fact, I struggled so much that instead of reading the 62 pages in one sitting, I started it the day it came out, and didn’t actually finish it until just under a month later. That is just an example of how short my attention span was for this book, which makes me sad as I really desperately wanted to like it.

I felt there wasn’t enough space in the book to really introduce the characters fully, and that the first part was quite rushed, almost ‘here’s these characters and then there is this character and then another character to add to the mix’, but also there was just so much description throughout this part, and it felt so metaphorical in a lot of places. I’ve also heard a few people think the main character compare to Celeana from the Throne of Glass series, which I can kind of see. Though, I do think the characters seem like a good part of this story, particularly Andi’s crew.

You know, despite this review, I don’t think it’s that bad, however I really do think that I would’ve liked it more if it was just a bit longer so we had more time to actually settle into the story and so there was time for me to really feel engaged in this book.

Personally, I think I would be much better off waiting until all of the sections are out there so that I can read this all at once, perhaps then it will capture my attention a little bit better as there will be more to read.

I think the issue surrounding this book is that it is written by an extremely popular booktuber. And here’s the thing, I really like both Sasha and Lindsay, however I just was not impressed as I thought I would be, but hey, there’s always next time!

3 Stars

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The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee AhdiehThe Rose & the Dagger
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #2
Publisher: Penguin
Date: April 2016
416 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
Buy the BookGoodreads

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

This review will have spoilers for the first book in the series, The Wrath & the Dawn, so if you haven’t read it yet then stop here!

The Wrath and the Dawn was one of my favorite books of 2015 and so I had been eagerly awaiting its conclusion for a year. Things started out really good, characterizations were consistent and the language and descriptions as beautiful as ever. I enjoyed both Shahrzad’s story at the camp as well as Khalid’s experiences at the palace, especially his relationship with Jalal. Unfortunately once the story started moving the plot felt glossed over and resolutions came too conveniently.

Shahrzad finally seeks out the Fire Temple and Musa Zaragoza, a story line I was really looking forward to and where Shazi teams up with a new character, Artan. I loved their interactions!! They were funny and had great chemistry. However, while he remains present for the rest of the book we don’t see much of him. It’s just made clear that he is around and helping. I would have enjoyed seeing a lot more of them working and training together, their dynamic had more energy and excitement than some of the others that got featured more heavily.What we do get is a lot of time spent on Shazi’s sister Irsa and Rahim, which ultimately felt like a waste of page time with so many other interesting characters (Jalal, Despina, Artan) being sidelined. When it came to the actual steps needed to break the curse it all felt too easy. This was a curse whose casting had cost a mans life and originally demanded the lives of a hundred girls to break, I expected more difficulty and sacrifice to come with this, but in the end the solution felt like a non-event.

The antagonists again are Khalid’s uncle the Sultan of Parthia, as well as Tariq’s uncle and Shahrzads’ father Jahander. None are especially scary and Jahander is flat out annoying, flip flopping from one emotional extreme to another. Between villains I couldn’t take seriously and the diminished threat of the curse, there was a lack of tension. I wasn’t really nervous or convinced the protagonists were in over their heads. I think the book would have been amazing if it had another hundred pages or so. This series is full of characters that are easy to invest in and a plot that could have been really complex, but instead of taking time to get deep into it all, most of the events are explained away too quickly.

On the plus side I appreciated the way Tariq’s story line progressed and felt it was deserved after a lot of irrational hate towards the character. In addition there continued to be great examples of sisterhood via the dynamics between Shazi, Yasmine, Despina, and Irsa. 

While it wasn’t by any means a bad book, I 100% expected to love this and feel sad that I didn’t.  Shahrzad and Khalid have some great swoon going on though, and as I said at the start, the characterizations and descriptions are wonderful but the conflict resolution felt too tidy and easily won to be compelling.

3.5 Stars

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Event Report: Tiger’s Summer Splash

Event Report: Tiger’s Summer Splash

Event Report

I was thrilled to be invited to Tiger’s Summer Splash, Little Tiger Press’ picture book event a few weeks ago. I’ve historically not been a kids book blogger, but as an newly expecting mum, I’m super happy to dive in to the world of pretty pictures and fun rhymes. Plus, my husband was thrilled for once to come with me!

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When I arrived, the room was buzzing with lots of authors, illustrators, lovely people from Little Tiger and lots and lots of excited kids! There was a short presentation of each book by their respective author/illustrator and a lovely reading by the animated Jeanne Willis of her book There’s No Such Thing as a Snappenpoop.

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Then the kids went to different activity tables inspired by one of the books for a lot of colouring, face painting, puzzles and much more!

Now a quick recap of the books featured. What’s nice is that we actually got a chance to read all of them!

Nibbles the Book Monster by Emma Yarlett

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This book was my favourite of the lot and author/illustrator Emma Yarlett is extremely talented. I’ve already heard so much about Nibbles from the fabulous social media campaign, but when I got my hands on this book, I just fell in love. The book is stunning. The book has books within the book. It’s got fun things to flip and move, like pages within pages and cut-outs.

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Nibbles is absolutely adorable, and loves to eat his way through books. The story is also super cute as he interrupts well-known fairy tales. Basically it’s every book lovers’ picture book dream. Recommended for slightly older children.

There’s No Such Thing as a Snappenpoop by Jeanne Willis and Matt Saunders

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I loved the story of this book. The author said she wrote it in honour of her very annoying older sister. It’s funny and perfect for anyone that’s got siblings! The artwork by Matt Saunders is extremely cute.

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I really enjoyed how it incorporates mythical creatures as unreasonable requests from the little brother’s older brother. Also, it’s got a fun twist ending. Loved it and it was super entertaining!

The Great AAA-OOO by Johnny Lambert

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This was the most fun book to read out loud. It takes place in a forest of animals and the rhymes build off fun animal noises! The animals don’t know where this mysterious AAA-OOO sound is coming from and everyone climbs up a tree together in case it’s a monster! The story is very Gruffalo-esque.

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The illustration is big and bold and the animals look terrific. My husband ended up guessing the ending, so kudos to him!

Paws McDraw by Connah Brecon

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Paws is a bear that’s the fastest doodler in the west. He can draw anything to life to help the bunnies in the town, such as hoses and elephants to stop a fire. When the bunnies get attacked for their cupcakes, Paws has got to save the day!

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This was a fun story, but I think it was a tad too long. Also, the text doesn’t stand out very much, which I feel would make it hard for an early reader to read.

The Messy Book by Maudie Powell-Tuck and Richard Smythe

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A cat makes a mess, which a dog tries to make them clean up. Other animals are part of the big mess and the standout for me is the hat-loving giraffe and penguins. The art is just as messy as the book, which feels like paper cut-outs and scribbles.

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Personally, I also thought the story was quite messy and all over the place. It was cute, but I didn’t appreciate how it sort of just went along with no rhyme or reason. That said, it is perfectly named The Messy Book!

 
 
 
After a reading by Emma Yarlett of Nibbles, the amazing folks at Little Tiger also got us passes to the London Aquarium! It was the first time I’ve ever been and I have to say that I absolutely loved it. Thank you Little Tiger Press for the loveliest of days!

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Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

Bittersweet by Sarina BowenBittersweet
Author: Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #1
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Date: June 2016
384 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary
Buy the BookGoodreads

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Bittersweet is the first Sarina Bowen novel I’ve read and I loved it. In a genre full of MMA fighters, biker gangs, billionaire bachelors, and man-whores, it was refreshing to have a male lead who is an organic farmer in Vermont. Griffin tends fruit trees, milks cows, and makes artisan cider. He has a good relationship with his mother, three younger siblings, and grandfather, all whom his endless work helps support. You get an appreciation for the struggles farmers go through -the need to diversify your product in case one has a bad season and not enough product is there to sell, keeping an eye on where things are headed and which products will provide best over the long term, and just how much work it all is. The idea of right livelihood is something that means a lot to me and that plays a role in the story. At the end of the day, Griffin, his family, and the community of small passionate farmers that neighbor them, make their living offering something of health and value to others and do it in a manner that respects the land and animals that provide it for them. The balance between struggle and reward is something that is really noticeable from Griffins POV. He is young and misses his deceased father everyday and worries about his ability to make the right decisions for the business and his family. I found this all so much more interesting and easy to care about than other themes that often surround contemporary heroes.

Audrey by contrast has community surrounding her and a very poor relationship with her only family member, her mother. She is a talented aspiring chef who dreams of having her own restaurant, the corporation she works for could potentially fund that dream. It’s a long shot, but enough to cause her to stay in a low paying job that rarely utilizes her true skill (cooking) and instead has her doing a variety of tasks that are outside her actual skill set. She comes to Vermont on just such a task -to negotiate prices for product, something made more difficult when her company offers half the going rate. The disparity in the idea of livelihood is impossible to miss. Audrey makes no money working for a wealthy company who wants to pay very little for its goods. Griffin pays his seasonal workers a living wage, feeds them, houses them, and cuts no corners when it comes to ethics in his business. He is also perpetually having to worry about bankruptcy. I love that while this was at it’s heart a contemporary romance it also highlighted a very real problem in our world.

And last but not least, the romance. It was swoon-y and fun. Though Audrey and Griffin come from very different backgrounds they ultimately fit perfectly, something Griffin is more able to see than Audrey, who has a lot more issues regarding her path in life, her self esteem, and her ability to be loved and valued by others. Each has just what the other needs and there is the right balance of them being both similar and totally different in the right ways. I also want to give a shout out for another really positive dynamic, an ex fuck-buddy of Griffin’s runs a nearby bar. In so many books this woman would have been demonized as the jealous ex who we are not supposed to like and who does not get along with the new girlfriend. This does not happen here THANK GOODNESS. Zara may not have liked the way things ended with Griffin, but she and Audrey are friends and any issues she may have are targeted towards Griffin alone. And even that doesn’t last long. Kudos for girls being nice and supportive to other girls.

Bittersweet is the first book in a series, the next book Steadfast is currently set to release July 12, 2016.

 

5 Stars

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