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

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

Midnight Thief by Livia BlackburneMidnight Thief
Author: Livia Blackburne
Series: Midnight Thief #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date: July 2014
384 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
Buy the BookGoodreads

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

In her arresting debut novel, Livia Blackburne creates a captivating world where intrigue prowls around every corner—and danger is a way of life.

There was a lot of hype around this book at the 2014 Book Expo America (BEA) and the reviews I read made me want get my hands on this book on release day. I was lucky enough to find an actual print copy at a resell book shop 3 weeks before it was scheduled to be released. I felt it was my lucky day! I raced home to start on what I had hoped would be an amazing adventure into mystery and fantasy. Alas, my expectations were probably greater than what the story could deliver.

The story starts off with the sad background of young Kyra and her rough life being alone and learning how to use her natural speed and strength to survive on the streets of Forge. Kyra seems to have a huge heart and wants to take care of the few people that are close to her. That is a weakness that makes her naive and clouds her judgement to the point that you just roll your eyes. She just makes dumb decisions when her emotions are scattered.

When not battling her teenage emotions, Kyra is a spit-fire, feisty young girl who is tough, very talented, and happens to catch the attention of the local Assassins Guild. The Assassins Guild is only a feared rumor that turns out to be very, very true. The leader, James, makes Kyra an offer to join him with the promise of handsome rewards, more than she could ever dream of making on her own. Kyra does not realize that this will turn out to be a very deadly and dangerous decision, for her and her family. The missions Kyra goes are adventurous and very well written, I devoured this part of the book.

Kyra becomes entangled with a Palace knight, Tristam, who is seeking vengeance for the death of his friend who was killed by Demon Riders, barbarians who ride on the backs of vicious wildcats. I instantly felt warm fuzzies when Tristam came into the story. I really liked how his character is defined and he didn’t stray from who he is. What I didn’t like so much is how Kyra battles her emotions as they switch from liking James to liking Tristam. James = bad guy and Tristam = good guy. She wants both but cannot have both so that is a constant conflict for her.

Kyra and Tristam form an unlikely alliance that sets them both on a magical and unexpected adventure, which leads to the discovery of Kyra’s heritage. Now this is the part of the story that almost lost me. When Kyra’s heritage is revealed, it was nearly too much for me and I almost put the book down. I almost walked away. I simply did not like this part of the story and thought it should have been done completely differently. Yes, it answers a lot of the unanswered questions, but to me it was just too far-fetched. I know that nearly every other blogger loved every word of this book but it just didn’t end right in my eyes. I did make myself finish the story because I needed to know how the story ended. The writing was so good that I still had complete the first installment in this new series.

Overall, this is a very fast-paced story and a quick read. Readers who enjoy stories by Leigh Bardugo should really enjoy Midnight Thief. Livia Blackburne has done an outstanding job of setting the stage for, what is sure to be, a well received book series.

2.5 Stars

Continue reading →

2015 TBR Challenge – March

2015 TBR Challenge – March

2015 TBR Challenge

I know this is two months late, but I’m finally posting about my TBR Challenge for the year, which was inspired by Katytastic. Instead of putting names of books into the jar, I have put 12 bookish challenges! Each month, I’ll read a book that meets that challenge.

I realise that we are now in March, so for 2 of the remaining 10 months of the year, I will pick 2 challenges to complete that month. I think this will help broaden my reading horizon and take me out of my comfort zone (and hopefully prevent a reading slump)!

These challenges are:

tbrchallenge01

I had a lot of fun crafting a cute TBR jar that would stay on my shelf. Courtesy of some lovely shops on Etsy and Paperchase, I’m really happy with the final result!

tbrchallenge02

tbrchallenge04

tbrchallenge05

tbrchallenge06

2015 TBR Challenge

March – Read a Series Finale

This month, I picked read a series finale! There is one book I definitely had in mind when I picked this, and it is Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. I love, love, loved the first two books, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight, but I honestly didn’t want the series to end so I kept ‘saving’ this book for a special occasion.

Anyway, that time is this month! I have a holiday coming up, so what better way to enjoy it than by reading what I think will be an amazing end to one of my favourite series of all time.

tbrchallengemarch

Do you guys have any challenges you’re doing this year? If you want to do this challenge with me, let me know in the comments so I can offer support throughout the year! Also, what book would you read if you wanted to ‘Read a Series Finale’ this month?

Thanks and hope you guys will stick with me as I blog about the challenge for the rest of the year!

Continue reading →

Bookish Firsts: V. E. Schwab

Bookish Firsts: V. E. Schwab

Bookish Firsts Banner

I’ve been such a huge fan of V. E. Schwab for so long, I’m thrilled when I got the opportunity to ask her about her Bookish Firsts! If you didn’t gather from my review yesterday, I absolutely LOVED this book. In honour of it, I ask Victoria some A Darker Shade of Magic specific ‘firsts’ questions:

ADSOM header

Bookish Firsts

With author V. E. Schwab

What is the first book you ever read/remember reading?
The Boxcar Children series (yes, every single one of them) by Gertrude Chandler Warner

What is the first book you wrote (can be published or unpublished)?
I was 19 when I wrote a very strange book called THE SHADOW MILE, which I will probably never revisit, but which taught me so much about the process, including the simple fact that I was capable of finishing a book. TSM was about a girl who walks through a door and ends up in the land of the dead, where Death tries to con her into staying and taking Death’s place.

What was your first inspiration for this story?
Kell and Lila came to me in the very first idea for the very first scene. I was pondering and playing and had the image of a magician walking through a wall and colliding with a girl dressed as a boy street thief. It all came from that one image.

If you had Kell’s abilities, which London would you visit first and why?

Red London, absolutely, because it has the best food and fashion, and the most magic.

About A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

About V.E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab is the bestselling author of Vicious, which was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2013, an Amazon Best Book of the Year (as well as Best Book of the Month), a semi-finalist in the Goodreads Choice 2013 Book Awards, and the ALA top pick for Fantasy for their 2014 reading list. It was also noted in various author best-of lists, from Laini Taylor to Chuck Wendig. She is also the author of The Near Witch, The Archived, and The Unbound.

Giveaway!

We have a copy of A Darker Shade of Magic to giveaway on the blog, courtesy of Titan Books. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter below. This is open to UK participants only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ADSOM Banner

Continue reading →

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V. E. Schwab
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Publisher: Titan Books, Tor
Date: February 2015
400 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
Genres: Fantasy
Buy the BookGoodreads

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

I don’t think it’s fair to all other books that V.E. Schwab’s latest offering publish early in the year. After Vicious, her amazing adult debut last January, I had very high expectations for A Darker Shade of Magic. Not only did I love Schwab as an author, but the book—a fantasy world of parallel Londons, with promised magic, thievery and all around excitement—sounded incredible. When the covers were revealed, my love grew exponentially. In fact, this is my first review that features both, because I can’t even choose.

In the interest of full disclosure, I wanted say how amazingly lucky and privileged I am to have received an early advanced reader copy as a thank you from the author herself. Victoria, you’re the one I should be thanking!

I knew I loved this book before I read it. And the rare reality is, I loved this book even more after I read it. It is a true testament to Schwab’s remarkable characters, writing and world-building that A Darker Shade of Magic exceeded my sky high expectations.

Kell is one of the last Antari, a blood-mage with the ability to travel between worlds. He identifies them by colour: Red London, Kell’s home, where magic thrives. Grey London, a gloomy world with no magic. White London, where magic is power and only the strongest rule. And once upon a time, Black London, now sealed off from the others. The world building is rich and incredible. Every scene is memorable, but my favourite is the spectacular, magicky throne room showdown you absolutely don’t want to miss.

Kell’s is a rather lonely existence, due to his duty and diplomacy, but I loved how he threw a little rebellion and whimsy into the mix by illegally smuggling and collecting artefacts from different Londons. It took me a while to warm up to him, but I liked his strong resolve and I’m intrigued by his clouded past. I especially love his relationship with his adoptive brother and BFF, Prince Rhy Maresh, who radiates the kind of charisma only born princes have. I got attached to Rhy really quickly and my heart broke for him throughout the book.

Then we have the delightful Miss Delilah Bard. The meddling thief and aspiring pirate is a character you want to be—she craves freedom and adventure, and a life as unencumbered as possible. She’s witty and fearless, throwing herself into and delighting in each new experience, no matter how dangerous. Her motivation is living life to the fullest, and it’s such a refreshing point of view. Her and Kell’s reluctant meeting, turned grudging companionship, turned friendship is wonderful to read.

Schwab triumphs at creating complex, likable characters, both heroes and villains (anti-heroes and anti-villains?) alike. Astrid and Athos Dane, the rulers of the savage White London are probably the most fascinating set of royal twins since the Lannisters. They are both ruthless and cruel, but so horrifically engaging. I revelled in their villainy. Equally intriguing was Holland, Kell’s White London counterpart, another Antari whose true intentions are masked by his actions. I was fascinated by them all.

Comparing book for book, I still think I loved Vicious more, but maybe because I was expecting the fullness of standalone Vicious immediately. ADSOM is the start of a trilogy, and I fully expect my love to grow with each book. Absolutely buy it when it comes out. If this first book is anything to go by, there is only more wonder ahead.

Why you should read it:

  • Exceptional cast. I enjoyed every single character in this book.
  • One London is awesome. FOUR Londons is levels of awesome I can’t even describe.
  • Best. Magic. Fight. EVER.

Other things:

  • Kell’s magic coat, which is every coat in one, is a girl’s dream. Can someone manufacture this please?
  • I definitely want to visit in Red London. The river radiates magic!
  • I loved that pub that was in the same place in all the Londons.

ADSOM-image

5 Stars

Continue reading →

Cover Reveal: End of Days by Susan Ee

Cover Reveal: End of Days by Susan Ee

Cover Reveal button

I am so thrilled to be able to share with you guys the gorgeous UK cover for the fantastic end to the Angelfall trilogy, End of Days, in all its full, winged glory! I’m sure you all miss Penryn and Raffe and I can’t wait to know how their story ends!

And now without further ado, the cover reveal!

End of Days by Susan Ee

Isn’t it amazing? Tell me how excited you are about this cover in the comments below!

About End of Days

Publishing: eBook on 12 May 2015 and paperback on 21 May 2015

End of Days is the explosive conclusion to Susan Ee’s bestselling Penryn & the End of Days trilogy.

After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other.

Giveaway!

Join us for a reread of the series to date Angelfall and World After on Goodreads!

If you are new to the series, Hodder have kindly agreed to giveaway a copy of the first and second book in the series, Angelfall and World After! To win, just comment on why you want to read the series if you haven’t, or what you loved about the series if you have. I’ll pick someone at random at the end of the week. This giveaway is open to UK participants only.

Continue reading →

Page 1 of 93 1 2 3 4 5 ... Last →