Friday Face Off : A Trick of the Eye

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

A trick of the eye – a cover that is more than meets the eye.

A lot of the new themes are open to interpretation which might make choosing the covers and seeing other’s choices very interesting.  I can’t stress enough that this is all about your own interpretation and hopefully this new open feel to the meme will bring a larger selection of books and covers.  It’s not supposed to be hard work, there are no rules, just enjoy yourself.

I had a couple of books in mind for this week’s theme but in keeping with my desire to keep using my most recent reads I’ve gone with The Whisper Man by Alex North. I enjoyed this one.  My review is here and I have The Shadow Friend lined up to read in July.  Here are the covers:

My favourite:

I like the first cover with the butterfly that when you look closer is actually a handprint.  I also like the butterfly with the skull – but I’m a little odd like that.  I think my favourite though is:

Whisperman2

On the face of it a butterfly wing but when you zoom in, bones and skulls are the substance of the wing.

Do you have a favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know 😀

Next week – Moody – a cover that is atmospheric,

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

2019

10th April – Moody – a cover that is atmospheric,

17th April – out of focus – double vision or all a blur

24th April – Armour – ‘“Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.”

1st May – Canine – “And then there were cats, thought Dog.:

8th May – graphic novel cover – “Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel”

15th May – pink – as pink as cotton candy – any cover that is pink

22nd May – Sorrow – a cover that makes you feel sad

29th May – Silhouette – an island, a person, anything you like

5th June – Flight – any type of flight – to flee, to fly

12th June – The bodice ripper – exactly as it seems

19th June – Time – time waits for no one

26th June – Windows – windows to the soul?

#SPFBO Review : Blade’s Edge (Chronicles of Gensokai #1) by Virginia McClain

Blade's EdgeBlade’s Edge is one of the finalists for the SPFBO competition and my sixth book read and reviewed leaving four more contenders.

As we set out we meet Mishi and Taka, two young girls, living in an orphanage and sharing friendship and secrets.  The two of them have magical abilities that put their lives at threat but also means that the bond they share is strong.  Unfortunately the two are separated at an early age, both being taken to very different destinations and in fact spending the majority of the story apart from that point forward.

Mishi is taken to a school where warriors are trained. Her role is to be a servant by day and to secretly train as a warrior at night.  Taka finds herself in a midwifery school where she hones her healing abilities and uncovers the harsh secrets of those who rule the land. The two will eventually meet again and take a stand against the oppression they have encountered.

On the face of it this book has such a lot that I love going on.  A great setting with a Feudal Japanese feel.  Two characters learning of their own elemental magic with tree and dragon spirits (Kami) and a fairly straightforward struggle between right and wrong.  But, and I hate to have a ‘but’ as part of this review, I wasn’t as bowled over as I expected to be and I’m really struggling to put into words why that was, in fact I’ve been sitting on writing a review for a few days to see if I could unravel my feelings.

In terms of the writing.  I think the writing here is very good, it doesn’t go overboard on long, drawn out explanations or descriptions and there are no annoying info dumps. In some respects the writing style makes me ponder over whether this book is aimed at the younger side of YA, but don’t hold me to that because I might have missed things that could easily be inappropriate for a younger audience.  So, whilst I enjoyed the writing I felt like the pacing suffered for some reason and, again, I’m finding it hard to put my finger on why that is.  The only thing I can really come up with is that this jumps forward on a number of occasions and rushes over aspects of the story that I would have liked to spend more time on – which sounds very conflicted when I’m discussing pacing issues – I did say I was struggling here.

The characters.  Predominantly the story is told by Mishi and Taka.  Both girls are similar in a number of ways.  Both orphaned, both share strong magic and both are determined to uncover the untruths that govern the society in which they live.  I liked both characters, they’re both good characters, but, I wasn’t completely enamoured with them, I felt more that I liked them because they were on the side of ‘right’.  I found myself more drawn to the side characters who joined the story a little later on or at least their inclusion boosted the story a little for me.

The world building is interesting even if it does rely a little on the reader bringing some knowledge to the table.  It has a strong Japanese feel and an interesting magic system that uses the elements.  For many years only boys were believed to wield magic with any real degree of strength and those with the ability are trained as warriors and become Kisoshi.  However, as the story develops we learn that the Roju Council have been taking ‘steps’ to maintain strict secrecy around female magic.

In terms of criticisms. I think my main issue was a lack of attachment to the two main characters, I’m not sure why I didn’t become more attached to them – although I think it could be linked to the strange jumps forward in the storytelling which left me feeling as though I’d missed out on something somewhere along the line.  I also couldn’t help feeling that the two girls sometimes read too much alike which on a couple of occasions became a little confusing.

To be honest, I think this review feels more critical than I intended. This is in fact a good coming of age story, well written and with a dramatic ending. It didn’t quite work for me as well as I’d hoped but I think this could be because this is aimed at a younger audience.

Overall I would rate this as 7* out of 10.

My thanks to the author for a review copy.  The above is my own opinion.

 

Top Ten Tuesday. You book lover you.

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is :

Ten Signs You’re a Book Lover

1. You pretend you haven’t seen people who you know so that you don’t have to stop reading and make polite conversation – or is this only me??  Please say it isn’t so.

2. You know your librarian so well that she’s actually your best friend (maybe even your only friend – see No.1).  P.S. You know it’s really bad if she was also your bridesmaid!

3. You smuggle books into the house – I used to do this, like a secret shopper, pretending I wasn’t continually buying yet more books, even though I had SO many already to read – this isn’t so much a problem now I have kindle and ‘one click’.  Yay.

4. Your books actually are part of the furniture.  They’re stacked like bedside cabinets and table legs and hold lamps and, yes, yet even more books.  Word to the wise, never, I say never, attempt to pull out one of those books from the middle or bottom of the stack.  It just doesn’t work.  Trust me on this.

5. You know the names of so many authors but forget the names of colleagues or people you’ve only just met – and you always say you’re bad at remembering names just to cover it up.  Yes, I do remember the names of my children.

6. You can’t help feeling really disappointed if people don’t buy you gift vouchers.  Come on people.  It’s so easy to give me a gift voucher.  Just DO IT.  I will not be let down. It’s an absolute no-brainer.

7.  You practically scramble, pushing people over in your haste, if you see a box of books on sale at a charity shop or jumble sale – let’s be honest though, what are the chances that you’re going to love the books inside!  It could happen though.  One day.  You just have to keep on checking, and then checking some more.  Never say never.  Never. Just don’t.

8. Book presents just make you happy, even if somebody buys you a book, and you already own that book, and have already read it a couple of times, a nicely wrapped, book shaped package is always a joy to behold.

9. You feel secretly irritated if you go for a night out and you’re not enjoying it – when you could be at home finishing a good book.  You know you do.  I know I’m not the only one.

10. You were so involved in your latest read that you totally missed your bus/train/tram stop – and everyone on there knows you just did so, but you have to calmly put your book down, maybe even letting a few stops whiz by, whilst you stride for ‘coolness’ in an attempt to make it all look deliberate.  Or you could madly scramble for the exit.  Both work equally well.

.

Friday Face Off : Freebie – choose a favourite cover

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

Freebie – choose one of your favourite covers

A lot of the new themes are open to interpretation which might make choosing the covers and seeing other’s choices very interesting.  I can’t stress enough that this is all about your own interpretation and hopefully this new open feel to the meme will bring a larger selection of books and covers.  It’s not supposed to be hard work, there are no rules, just enjoy yourself.

The good old freebie – this should be easy and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. Also, on that note, if I haven’t been visiting or blogging much in the past week and a half it’s because I’ve been having a bit of a slump.  Can’t think why (*scratches head in puzzlement??*)  Anyway, I just need to get over myself and pull things together.  So, if I’ve not been visiting, well, that’s why.  I’ll be trying to catch up as much as possible over the next couple of weeks.

So, to this week’s theme.  The lovely freebie.  Not many covers for this week’s choice as I’ve gone for a very new book and a recent read – which I loved (my review is here).  Here are the two (very different) covers, for my book this week:  You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce:

Difficult to choose this week.  I like the first one.  The colours and the way the branches are growing through the font.  The second cover is very pertinent to the read and it’s quite startlingly creepy.  I think on balance I prefer the second cover but then I keep going backwards and forwards.  Eventually, I chose the second version. I think the first cover gives me a murder mystery vibe –  which is an element of this story but not the overriding plot – oh dear, I’m all over the place.  Anyway, my favourite:

Youletmein2

Do you have a favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know 😀

Next week – a trick of the eye – a cover that is more than meets the eye.

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

2019

3rd April Fools – a trick of the eye – a cover that is more than meets the eye.

10th April – Moody – a cover that is atmospheric,

17th April – out of focus – double vision or all a blur

24th April – Armour – ‘“Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.”

1st May – Canine – “And then there were cats, thought Dog.:

8th May – graphic novel cover – “Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel”

15th May – pink – as pink as cotton candy – any cover that is pink

22nd May – Sorrow – a cover that makes you feel sad

29th May – Silhouette – an island, a person, anything you like

5th June – Flight – any type of flight – to flee, to fly

12th June – The bodice ripper – exactly as it seems

19th June – Time – time waits for no one

26th June – Windows – windows to the soul?

#SPFBO Review : A Tale of Stars and Shadow (A Tale of Stars and Shadow #1) by Lisa Cassidy

ATaleofA Tale of Stars and Shadows is my fifth finalist review for the SPFBO.  I’m obviously behind with my reviews for the finalists so April will be the month of catching up for me!

I have to say I really had a good time with A Tale of Stars and Shadow.  As far as fantasy stories go this isn’t exactly breaking the mould or coming up with anything particularly unique but it’s a tale well told and it has characters that you can really get on board with even if it takes a little time to do so.  I enjoyed the world building and having finished the first in series I can say without doubt that I would like to read more.

This is a tale with two POVs.  The central character is Talyn, a Princess and a warrior who has recently suffered the loss of her partner and her confidence.  Talyn has been putting off being given a new placement.  Following the death of her partner she took the unprecedented move of standing down as a Callanan warrior and instead taking up the role of Kingshield and this move sees her being placed as, well, bodyguard to a ‘winged’ prince in the country of Mithranar and given the unenviable task of recruiting and training a squad of guards for protection purposes.  Talyn’s arrival in Mithranar is something of an upset though.  The city is divided into two.  The arrogant winged folk who live in the upper echelons, they seem to have very little regard for humans and see them as little more than grist for the mill, and the people who live in the lower city, mostly underfed and living in poverty.  This is a society that feels a little ‘behind times’ in certain respects.  There are no women recruited to the Falcons (the winged army) and Talyn’s appearance as a female bodyguard definitely throws a spanner into the works.  She is given very little assistance and forced to choose recruits from the prison cells – basically, she’s being set up to fail.

The second POV is the Shadowhawk.  A mysterious criminal who stalks the city, robbing food to give to the poor.  A Robin Hood character if you will.  I loved his opening scene which really was a great set up and pulled me into the story very easily.  I enjoyed the chapter switches, the Shadowhawk provides a way for readers to look at the story from a different angle which is something I always enjoy.

What I really liked about this was the world building.  Whilst I wouldn’t say that everything is yet fully fleshed out this makes a really good start and has definitely whetted my appetite for more.  I’d like to know more about the forests beyond the walls of Mithranar and the creatures that live there – there’s a definite tale in the making if you ask me.  I’d also like to know more about the winged people and the magic they use, and how this relates to the humans who also have magic.  There’s a lot hinted at in this first instalment and it definitely intrigues me.

In terms of the characters, we have a bunch of misfits being trained into a purpose.  There’s the constant threat hanging over them of ‘make this work or else’ and the carrot and stick scenario of being pardoned if successful.  I can’t say I really became attached as such to any of the characters in particular but as a group I enjoyed their exploits and felt myself cheering them on.  Nothing like a tale of underdogs rising up against the odds after all.

Talyn and the Shadowhawk.  Well, Talyn is a bit closed off at first and it does take a little while to form an attachment to her but I ended up quite firmly in her corner.  I found myself constantly frustrated by the obstacles she met and the discrimination and in fact found myself wishing her to really tell it the way it was.  The Shadowhawk is, necessarily so, a mysterious character.  I didn’t quite understand his motives at first although having now thought about it, I can see a little more about why he felt compelled to act the way he did – I just can’t share it here!,

In terms of criticisms.  I think this could probably have been slimmed down a little.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t struggle to read this, I was always keen to pick it back up, but, given the length there isn’t a great deal plot wise – although, in fairness, the author is taking the time to establish things and give a feeling of camaraderie for Talyn and her group of trainees.  there are aspects to the plot that are really good – like the flooding and the way everyone banded together to get through it, but then there’s the big emphasis on a football match, which, okay, I can see what that was about to some extent but then in another way I could have equally done without it.  I also have to admit that I didn’t really find the mystery of the Shadowhawk to really be a mystery at all – in fact I guessed who he was very early in the book – I’m not really sure that it matters though and in some respects I think it might have worked better if this hadn’t been kept a mystery and we could have had a little more insight from his pov.

Overall, I had a good time with A Tale of Stars and Shadow and find myself very keen to read more about this world and these characters.

I would like to thank the author for the review copy.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5* or 8 of 10.

 

 

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