Monday, May 04, 2015

#FantasyIRL tag: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

Hi Everyone! Today I have a different post for you all about An Ember in the Ashes. I've heard so much about this book and a lot of people around the blog have certainly said this is one of their most anticipated reads of 2015. I have to say I haven't really read much about it, but when the very publishers asked if I wanted a copy I couldn't pass up the opportunity. As part of the package, Harper Voyager set us a challenge to join the #FantasyIRL tag where we asked ourselves the questions on the cards and maybe it will open up a wider conversation about power, freedom, control and destiny and how they affect us. But here is a little bit more about the book.


An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
Publisher - Harper Voyager
Release Date - June 4th 2015
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?

For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.

For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.

When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.

But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

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POWER. We all feel powerless sometimes. Have you ever fought against someone in a powerful position and stood up for yourself - if so, how did you do it? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
If I'm honest, I really haven't fought against someone in a powerful position. But if I were to give some advice I would say; Be true to yourself and your opinions, don't be afraid to express them at all. That being well, it can be incredibly tough and courageous to stand up to someone like this. But don't give up either....


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FREEDOM. Modern life often means doing things we don't want to do (as in fantasy). What do you do to keep yourself feeling positive during a difficult day? Are there any songs/places/people that make you feel happy?
There is always a time when we have a difficult day, I've had a load of those sadly. To keep myself feeling positive I do have a couple of things; I have a 'Happy' playlist on my iPod that I like to switch on loud and read to fully escape the atmosphere even if it is for an hour on my break. That usually lets me recoup myself. Another is that I think of a very special person in my life. It corny I know, but he really makes me so happy and just thinking about him, makes my world a brighter, glowy and the happiest place I could be. 


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CONTROL. We all have moments where we feel out of control of our own lives. What helps your regain control? Have you ever been a victim of peer pressure, or felt pushed into doing something you don't necessarily agree with? What advice would you give someone in a similar situation?
When I think I'm being pushed to my limit, I find that my control is pretty good but I have a tenancy to let things build inside of me which doesn't really help. I tend to do the classic, Count to 10 or 100 depending on the situation. But it can also show on my face rather than the use of my words, emotions can get the better of me sometimes. I was given this advice and I recommend it; give them dumb insolence, then you will slowly try to regain your composure when faced in that predicament. 


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DESTINY. Do you believe that everything happens for a reason and your destiny is laid out for you? What do you think you can do to change your own destiny? What makes you happiest now - and how does it differ from what made you happiest this time last year?
I do believe in destiny and indeed fate too. I've always believed that things happen for a reason and I believe it for a good reason as it's happened to me. If you want to take another path then that's up to you because I think that your destiny will follow you wherever you will go and will help in the process. Maybe that'a bit far-fetched but I guess this is what I feel in me. What is making me happy is that everything in my life couldn't be better, my job, my family, my relationship and my blog. Everything changed nearly a year ago and now I feel that everything is just fitting together nicely and I couldn't be happier.


So there you have it, I've completed my challenge of the #FantasyIRL tag. Now it's your turn... I know a lot of you are a tag-free zone so some of you may not do it, but I'm challenging you to be a part of this. Answer each of these questions in your own post or vlog to join in on the conversation that is #AnEmberintheAshes



Thursday, April 30, 2015

ARC REVIEW - EMMY & OLIVER by Robin Benway



Emmy & Oliver
by Robin Benway
Publisher - HarperTeen/Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date - June 23rd/July 16th 2015
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?
                                                         
Emmy & Oliver is another aspect of contemporary. Granted I've read a few contemporaries in one go at the moment but I loved that it stood out from the rest. It took a completely new angle on how a friendship can really last forever and be the most precious thing in your life when your feelings for each other certainly don't finish at 'just friends'...

One day Oliver and Emmy where only 10 when Oliver moved with his dad. He knew nothing out of the ordinary when her first left, but as time went on and they constantly moved around and hid under the radar that actually he was taken by his father. Emmy has hoped that he would come back one day and just continue where they left off, constant searches and news crews surrounded her life for years. Now 10 years later he was found...
"Do you like Emmy? Yes or No"
The day that Olly went missing was the day that Emmy thought that they would be best friends forever, but when one of her best friends, Caro asked Oliver, did he like Emmy more than a friend? He was only 10 at the time but still after all this time, she still wants to know if that is true even to this day. Emmy was a helpless character when we first met her. She didn't really move on when Olly suddenly disappeared but she really want given the chance either. Her parents didn't help matter. They kept her in a small cardboard box and she hasn't been let out to breathe. She has to lie to her parents about her surfing, the one thing she really lets her down with. It's the only time she can really lose herself in the waves and motion. To get a perspective of her life. This is how she and Oliver really start to rekindle the friendship they once had.

For a while, neither of them really know what to say or do. It's a little awkward, it's as if they didn't know how to act around each after so long. Though the first thing both of their parents to them was "Oliver needed space..." how much space does the poor lad need when he probably doesn't even know what he wants himself. But both parents really didn't know what they where saying. They were to stuck in the 10 years that had passed to see their children were suffocating. Their first meet as school starts, really was quite emotional, "Emily is it?!" I was quite taken back myself and I felt that would really put things between them in perspective. But Emmy wasn't going to give up on the boy next door. This was a start to seeing the girl who likes to surf, surface to her full potential.

Relationships based on strong friendships are the best kind in a novel or in real life. You find that when you know some one for so long, and start to feel a pull of something deeper inside you that you know they're the one. Olly and Em are the reason why I love immersing myself in that sort of romance once more. The book itself is split into four parts, each with a flashback or memory of their childhood friendship then back to present where they both remember it and both building that connection once again. What I felt it lacked was Oliver's POV. After all it was his disappearance that sparks their re-connection and I think a dual perspective would've really created a more solid picture of Olly's character and the novel as a whole. We would be able to understand him more and see more emotional connection towards him as a reader.

For the lovers and readers of Kasie West (On the Fence and The Fill-In Boyfriend), Stephanie Perkins (Lola and the Boy Next Door) then this book is for you. I would totally recommend it as an enjoyable, heartfelt and simple telling of a friendship worth saving and rekindling into something much more. Whilst this is my debut novel from this author, I'll look forward to reading much more of her work.

Rating - 4

Thursday, April 23, 2015

REVIEW - TO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han



To All the Boys I Loved Before (To All the Boys I loved Before #1)
by Jenny Han
Publisher - Scholastic
Release Date - August 7th 2014
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. One for every boy she's ever loved. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control...





I just finished this and all I can say is why didn't I read this before?! And this if my first, yes I said first, Jenny Han book. She just has a way with words doesn't she, and she brings that bright smile and gooey feeling to the very last page. My heart was going this way, that way between Josh and Peter and it was just...just a gorgeous read. I loved it!

Lara Jean Song, the middle sister to Margo and Kitty Song, also known as the Song girls, likes to write goodbye letters to all the boys she has ever loved. When Margo left to move and study in Scotland, it is now Lara Jean's responsibility to be the big sister to Kitty and fill Margo place in the family. Out of nowhere, Peter Kavinsky, vain, annoying, cheerful ladies man comes up to Lara Jean to say he's received a letter from her...Lara Jean is mortified, how did her letters get sent in the first place? Her next door neighbour, Josh is one of those boys she's loved even before her sister, but she never said anything, so to soften the blow of receiving his letter, Lara Jean starts a fake relationship with Peter K...but maybe it turns out not so fake in feelings...

This novel often reminded me of Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, with it's letters and notes. It adds a certain texture to the book and the story that I just love. It's more authentic and more revealing of the character behind her words. I write letters to my friends overseas bit I've never written a love letter properly, although I really want too. But I find writing a letter your words are more raw and real. It much more heartfelt and emotional. It's just as true as saying them in person but they can be kept forever. As we spread each of the otters that Lara Jean wrote you could see how she grew from each of her loves and how they were only goodbye letters nothing more. She didn't consider the reality of what love could be like. Lara Jean was immune to love and the what ifs of whether one of those boys actually asked her out.
“My letters are for when I don't want to be in love anymore. They're for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I'm not longer consumed by my all-consuming love...My letters set me free. Or at least they're supposed to.”
Lara Jean was quite young for her age. She appeared to be immature at times and even her younger sister Kitty was more grown up than her. For me she did have some Mummy/Daddy issues that I didn't quite connect with, I'm not a fan of the use of phrasing for parents in novels. Lara Jean doesn't stray far from the box she is living in. I'm not saying that's a bad thing living in comfort and routine but when those letters are sent out, her first reaction is fear...but maybe it's a good thing, to let other people know she's around like Peter K. Peter K and Lara Jean pretty much hate each other, they used to be friends back in the day, then Peter went out with Genevieve, who certainly likes to stir up trouble. When they broke, Lara Jean and Peter started the fake romance to get Josh of her back. Whilst that's all being well, when he starts to do endearing things towards her, something more than fake feelings is happening here. With Peter, Lara Jeans she'll broke more, whilst it could be conflicting at times, she was brave enough to overcome it. What I find that I quite like with most contemporary stories is that the author creates some sort of flaw in her character and explores that thought the story, Lara Jean grows as a character, her personality and as a person.
“Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That's the part of the risk. I don't want to be scared anymore.”
To All The Boys I Loved Before had a great selection secondary characters that make up for the book to give it center stage. I loved seeing and revealing of all the letters throughout the book, one boy was even gay but turned out to be a good friend. One boy in particular I wanted to know more about which was John, I thought there would've been something there. Jenny Han is a fabulous writer and I'm glad that I don't have to wait very long at all for P.S I Still Love You, I haven't read the synopsis but I am rooting for someone that's for sure.

Rating - 5

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