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Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L Jensen (ARC)

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Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy #2) by Danielle L Jensen (June 2015)

Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Oh gee. I wanted this book so bad. Somehow I missed when it went live for request on NetGalley and then I sent a panicked email to the publisher (I love you, Angry Robot) and I was pointed in the right direction.. and poof! I was reading it.

You can see my review of book one, Stolen Songbird, here. I’ve been featuring book one in various lists and memes since I read it.. and gosh. It was just such a stunning start to a series.

Unfortunately, Hidden Huntress seems to have been hit by ‘second book syndrome’

What worked for me?

Tristan – Is still awesome. I really dug the parts written from his POV. He’s slick, he’s suave and yet he still feels so much. He says something in this book about Cecile wearing her heart on her sleeve, but the way he wears his effected me much more.

Sabine – Really left an impression in this book. Obviously we don’t see much of her in Stolen Songbird, but I was really taken with her spirit and ‘call to arms’ type attitude she has. She’s a go-getter. She actually does things, makes decisions (good AND bad) and powered by her own steam.

Trollus – It was nice to have a change of setting, but I was glad we still got glimpses of Trollus in the aftermath of Stolen Songbird. The court intrigue and the political power plays gripped me as much as GoT might.

What didn’t work for me?

Pace – Slow. I found this book quite hard to read in that nothing really happens for a good two thirds. It was nice to be back with characters that I have grown to love from the first book.. But jeez. It was slow going.

Plot – Surely, you knew where this was going, too? Was it just me? But for Cecile’s side of the plot, I kinda had it pegged down pretty quickly. The whole thing with Anushka was frustratingly obvious. Luckily, Tristan’s side of things, and what was going on in Trollus, felt less predictable and I enjoyed following that strand. To be fair, I didn’t expect the part near the end that Anushka shares (trying to be spoiler-free here, if you want specifics, please do message me!) and it was a nice touch to the overall lore.

Cecile – Was much more passive than I remember her being. There were glimmers of a more feisty nature, but as a character I found her more reactive than active. And the drama with her mother made me want to shake her. Gawds. Just get on and do what you ended up doing in the end! *sighs*

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I had high expectations for this book. I was over the moon to be granted a review copy and to say I was excited would be an understatement. There were some really crackly, fiery scenes between Cecile and Tristan, and I devoured those. But for the most part, I was let down. This book is definitely more filler than killer.

Fans of the first book should still read this installment. (And that cover though?! GORGEOUS!)

I gave it a merry 3 out of 5 and I do look forward to reading the final book.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books to read in a day

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Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It’s a ‘free’ week this week, so I dug into the TTT archives and saw this one. This looked like fun.. but then I had to trawl through my Goodreads shelves and try and remember how long it took me to read each book!

Well, here it is; books to read in a day (as long as you literally do nothing else. Just read. In bed. A book and duvet day. Yup.)

1. The Hit List – Set in an arts college I loved the environment and the drama it bred. Dancing, high school theatrics, romance. An easy page turner.

2. Along for the Ride – Sarah Dessen is so easy to read. I find myself finishing her books in a day, or in two night sittings. Sweet, smooth narratives.

3. Ugly Love – I was hooked into the emotion of this book. I could have finished it in a day (if I’d had the day to spare!)

4. Slammed – Noticing a pattern here? I’m so easy when it comes to a dash of romance. Putty in the author’s hands (especially Hoover’s). I read Slammed on a single train journey. I enjoyed the building tension and the movement of the story.

5. Be With Me – Similarly, I’m a sucker for a J Lynn title. You’re guaranteed to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s so worth it.

6. Just One Day – I loved the concept of this book and the ‘travel’ aspect makes it so compelling. And yup, there’s the romance.

7. Fracture – One of the only books that isn’t ‘romancey’ on this list! LOL! Sorry about that… We’re going a little sinister for this one. Still has the romance aspect but much more focus on the action. Tres cool. It’s not a very long book, so reading it in a day is attainable.

8. The Geography of You and Me – Such a sweet book! Light and airy, it has the ‘travel’ element I mentioned above which keeps me locked in. The key to keeping me involved; a holiday romance! HA!

9. Anna and the French Kiss – This is in here because it has all the elements I love in a book (apparently). Romance, an ‘exotic’ setting, THE FEELS and just such quick witted and intelligent writing. LOVE this book. Could happily lose day reading this book.

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10. Ouran High School Host Club – Gotta squeeze some manga in here! Manga is always perfect for a quick, entertaining read. And this series is so much fun.

What would you recommend me?

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Top Ten Tuesday: authors I REALLY want to meet

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Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

So, I can very happily tick ‘Maria V Snyder’ off this list. But hell, given the chance, of course I’d meet her again. And again..

But who’s left on the ‘to meet’ list? Ah! So many. SOOOO MANY! Narrow it down to ten? Ok, I’ll try. I’ll post pictures of my favourite book by that author rather than their faces. Not because their faces ain’t pretty or anything *digs hole deeper*

Yup, that pretty much covers it. I’m heading to #YALC this year so hopefully I’ll be able to meet Marie Rutkoski.. which will be EPIC! But as for the others? *sighs wistfully* one day, maybe, one day…

Who would YOU like to meet?

 

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Calling all manga lovers!

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I’m making July #MangaMonth on my blog, with Japanese film and culture posts running alongside it on my sister blog.

I love manga, but I feel like I’ve fallen out of touch with it lately. I want to read more, and learn more. I’ll be featuring manga I’ve recently read, talking about my favourite characters and series, and looking at what it is about certain art styles that I really grab me.

And I want you to be involved too!

I’m looking for bloggers, manga fans, budding manga kas, Japanese culture enthusiasts, cosplayers, and anyone with something to say about manga.

I’d love to feature guest posts, or even a blog hop, on the following (but not limited to):

  • Your favourite series
  • Your favourite artist
  • Anime that is based on a manga series (compare and contrast)
  • Exploring Japanese culture from a western perspective
  • KAWAII!
  • Showcasing your own original artwork or fan art

If you’d like to get involved, then please do get in touch via the form below. Tell me what you’d like to write/present and link me to your site/social media where appropriate.

*montage created by Dannielleroset

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Review: Renegade by Kerry Wilkinson

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Renegade by Kerry Wilkinson (May 7th 2015, Pan Macmillan) Received with thanks from NetGalley

Silver Blackthorn is a fugitive from the law.
Silver Blackthorn has committed treason.
She is dangerous. Do NOT approach her.
A large reward is on offer. Report any sightings to your nearest Kingsman.
Long live the King.

Silver Blackthorn is on the run. She fled Windsor Castle with eleven other teenagers, taking with her something far more valuable than even she realises: knowledge.

With the entire country searching for the missing Offerings, Silver must keep them all from the vicious clutches of King Victor and the Minister Prime. Until now, no one has escaped the king and lived to tell the tale.

Or have they?

With expectations weighing heavily on the girl with the silver streak in her hair, will she ever find her way home?

I was so psyched to get approved on NetGalley for this. I LOVED the first book (you can see my thoughts on it here) and imagine my surprise to find me in the ‘praise for’ section for book two! For me, as a book blogger, there’s no better feeling than seeing that. Look out for me in your copy ;)

So, let’s talk about Renegade.

What worked for me?

Silver – She goes from strength to strength. I really appreciate how she takes the lead, even when the doubt is eating away at her. I also really enjoyed her reaction to Imrin (and Opie too, I guess); she’s not a swooner, and it was great to have a strong female protagonist that wasn’t turned to jelly by a love interest. I mean, sure, she’s interested, but I admire how Wilkinson has handled this aspect. Which leads on to…

The Romance – It’s important to me in a book. Obviously, only when it’s appropriate, but I think hormones have to play some part in a cast of teenage characters, true? I love Imrin. I can’t help it. He tries to be the hero for Silver, and through her eyes I felt the suffocating effect this was having on her. I can identify with that. But I also felt for Imrin because he really did mean well. #conflicted

The romance is a gentle undercurrent, it hovers under the surface while the main action and issues are splashing around on the surface.

Pace – Bam. Bam. Bam. It’s one thing after another, there’s hardly a chance to catch your breath before the plot pushes on again.

Setting – *chants* UKYA UKYA UKYA! Heh. This book is firmly set in the UK and I love it. It’s a changed landscape, a dystopian future, but it’s great fun to read. Now, take a deep breath, I’m about to make a bold  statement: Not since George Orwell has there been such an effective use of the British countryside and townships in a dystopian fiction.

Opie – Ok, so I liked that he was like a constant figure in Silver’s mind for the most part, but I did start to get a little frustrated with how she was dealing with her emotions over him. That said, I was surprised how strongly I started feeling towards the argument Silver was having with herself.. some of those moments made me ache because damn, you know that’s gonna hurt later.. The third book is gonna break my damn heart, I know it.

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Renegade was a ripper of a read. It tore open my head and heart and jumped inside. This made it painful to have to put down! It’s bleak and ballsy, but this is often softened by sweet, sparkly moments. (I’m thinking about the daisies, and the tortoise in particular).

A clever plot and an intelligently written cast of characters. Love it. Simple as. It left me wanting more, again!

I can haz book 3 nao?

 

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Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori (vol 1 & 2)

I’ve been wanting to get back into manga. I used to live in it, it was literally the only kinds of books I read for a long while. So when I signed up to the 108 challenge, I made sure ‘manga’ featured in one of the categories I had to read.

Ouran High School Host Club…

One day, Haruhi, a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School, breaks an $80,000 vase that belongs to the ‘Host Club’, a mysterious campus group consisting of six super-rich (and gorgeous) guys. To pay back the damages, she is forced to work for the club, and it’s there that she discovers just how wealthy the boys are and how different they are from everybody else.

I was stood in the library running my fingers along the spines of the manga. It was luck that I pulled out Host Club, but I knew from a quick flick through the pages that it would be a good fit.

Bisco Hatori uses an art style that I really enjoy. It’s similar to that of Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket and Hana-Kimi by Hisayo Nakajo. Clean, clear drawings. Crisp lines, pretty backgrounds, and a really keen eye for layout. The variation in smaller blocks and bigger ones is pleasing to the eye and I was completely swept up in the story.

The translation is great; I’ve been let down by duff translations in the past so this was the real icing on the cake.

But what has made this series for me so far?

Tamaki.

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I haven’t watched the anime yet because I’m keen to get some of the manga under my belt before I delve into that too.

But Tamaki! Ha! He’s a real peach. Bisco Hatori himself writes in volume 1 that this character grew more ‘annoying’ the more he brought him to life. But for me, he’s everything I love in a manga series. That one jerk-guy. Hilarious, arrogant, and often needs a cuff around the back of the head.

Moments like this tickle me every time:

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I don’t have much to say about the story so far. The first two volumes are introductory, really getting to know the cast of characters and the set-up. But it’s safe to say I’m hooked.

An easy 5 out of 5. Both the artwork and the story are fantastic.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Will Probably Never Read

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Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Oh dear. This is a little damning, isn’t it? But there are some books that I WANT to read, but I know, in my heart of hearts, that I will probably never get around to doing the actual reading.

Some are classics, and dude, we all need to brush up on our Classic reading, right? (no? Just me?) But for things like The Hunger Games? I have no excuse… I’ve had the books for nearly three years now, but I still can’t tempt myself to read them. *sigh*

Are any of these on your list?