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The Game of Love and Death
The Game of Love and Death
by Martha Brockenbrough
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read one book this year, let it be this one., 10 April 2015
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You can read the full review on the site:
http://reviewdiaries.blogspot.fr/2015/04/review-game-of-love-death-by-martha.html

The hardest reviews for me to write are for books that I absolutely loved, because in some cases I find myself reduced to near incoherency out of sheer love and there is only so much READ THIS BOOK NOW, SO GOOD that I can put in a review...
So this review has been incredibly hard. I've sat down to write it several times and am only now beginning to be able to string sentences together.

This book is stunning. It is a work of art. It forces you to feel in a way that I have not encountered in a book in a very long time. I was completely immersed in this story within the first few pages and once I had begun, I found it very difficult (near impossible) to separate myself from the story for longer than simple things like having a sandwich. It is all consuming.

I loved Henry and Flora fiercely. I found myself wanting to protect Flora from the horrible things she had to face, being a young black girl in 1930s America. I have never had such a visceral sense of anger and injustice reading as I did during some of the scenes where the colour of her skin denotes how people respond and communicate with her.
She and Henry are such a wonderful pair. Their sense of selves with each other, the ease and banter, the magnetic attraction and feeling that the world was sliding away and falling out from under them. I don't think I've ever rooted so fully for a pair to have a slice of happiness as I did with them.

The book is desperately sad, full of joy, passion, heartbreak and anger. It is a novel teeming with life and emotion, courage and the possibilities of life.
It's hauntingly beautiful and woven together with the genius of Martha's writing. Lyrical, almost poetical in places it captures the essence of young love in a dangerous and fraught time. The emotions and tensions bubbling beneath the surface until the incredible and climactic final chapters.

Fans of `The Night Circus' by Erin Morgenstern will love this game between Love and Death, who are such wonderful complex characters and who really drive the novel to new depths - ones you wouldn't normally expect with a book about two people falling in love. They add a sense of urgency, of the unknown and make the events feel as though they are poised on the brink of a knife, ready to tumble either way. It is rare for me to genuinely have no idea how a novel will end, but `The Game of Love & Death' not only kept me on my toes, but surprised me again and again, and I was crying by the final page.


The Last Leaves Falling
The Last Leaves Falling
by Sarah Benwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars the fact that it was written by Sarah just makes it even more awesome. There is a big surge of diverse young ..., 29 Jan. 2015
This review was written for 'The Review Diaries'
[...]

I should probably be upfront that Sarah is in fact a very dear friend of mine, so whilst I would be gushing about this book already simply on its own merit, the fact that it was written by Sarah just makes it even more awesome.

There is a big surge of diverse young adult fiction hitting the shelves which is a welcome breath of fresh air, and Sora’s tale set in modern Japan is no exception. Add to it that the story itself tackles death, euthanasia and features a disabled protagonist and ‘The Last Leaves Falling’ quickly sets itself apart as something other than your average YA fiction. The truth is it is so much more.

Sora is a tragic and compelling protagonist, at times buoyed up by those around him, sometimes sinking underneath the weight of inevitability, but his narrative had me racing through the book. It is a quiet, raw tale full of the tragic sense of time crashing too fast that comes with such a story, but that in no way hinders the storytelling, or makes it feel like a waste of a book. The prose is so beautifully constructed that you are at once struck with the inevitable end, desperate for any way to alleviate it, but knowing that there is nothing that can be done except to be with Sora through his journey and listen to his story.


The Queen Of The Tearling (Queen of the Tearling 1)
The Queen Of The Tearling (Queen of the Tearling 1)
by Erika Johansen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book appears to be quite the marmite book with people swearing up and down either that this is an awesome new fantasy, 3 Dec. 2014
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This book appears to be quite the marmite book with people swearing up and down either that this is an awesome new fantasy, or it’s a big pile of garbage. Luckily I’d managed to steer clear of any reviews prior to reading, so I went in knowing only that there was a lot of buzz surrounding it, and that Emma Watson is attached to a film version currently in the works.

Let’s start by talking about the cover. I love it. It’s one of the best covers I’ve seen this year. Incredibly simple, powerful and effective. And whilst the plot contained within isn’t exactly simple, it certainly gives you a good indication of what you’re going to find.

This is a novel on quite a fantastic scope. It’s a mixture of so many different things – dystopian, fantasy, both young adult and adult, with a fantastic set of characters led by Kelsea.

It took me a little while to warm up to Kelsea, she comes across as a little arrogant, a little bit spiky to start with, but the longer I read the more I loved her. She’s bright and intelligent and determined and so overwhelmed by everything. She’s human, but she’s desperate to try and protect her people, to fix the wrongs that have been going on in her kingdom and be a good leader. However despite all her good intentions she is hampered because no one will talk to her, she has no real knowledge of the kingdom as it is now or during her mother’s reign, which leaves her blind and hobbled and trying to plug all the gaps in a sinking ship. I loved her fierce and wonderful she was, and I loved how insecure and unsure of everything she was as well. She is fiercely human, and you can ask no more from a character than that.


The Winter Palace (A novel of the young Catherine the Great)
The Winter Palace (A novel of the young Catherine the Great)
Price: £5.49

4.0 out of 5 stars After reading a truly terrible young adult account of Sophie, 1 Dec. 2014
This review was written for 'The Review Diaries'.
You can read the full review here: http://reviewdiaries.blogspot.fr/2014...

After reading a truly terrible young adult account of Sophie, (the future Catherine the Great) a few months ago, I remembered that I had on my shelves another telling of that story, this one recommended by an author I adore, so I decided to give the tale another go.

‘The Winter Palace’ is an intense and gripping story told by Varvara, a Polish orphan who is taken in by the Empress and set to work in the royal wardrobe. She is hungry, exhausted, constantly belittled, and feels she should be destined for greater things if only the Empress knew that she was there living in the palace. By sheer luck and her curiosity she comes to the attention of Count Bestuzhev who trains her and presents her to the Empress as a new spy.

Varvara is a fascinating protagonist. She has a disappointing tendency to become as flat and invisible to the reader as Bestuzhev demands her to be to the occupants of the palace, but on the whole she is an intriguing view point to watch history unfold from. She sees so much, is privy to so much and it is engrossing to watch her become embroiled in the very heart of everything, privy to the Empress herself. Anyone who has a basic knowledge of Russian history will know how the events of the book will play out, but Stachniak manages on the whole to still make it fresh and new and engrossing for the reader as you are enmeshed further along with Varvara.

Stachniak has re-created the Winter Palace with an eye for detail and an ability to convey the sheer grandeur and over indulgence of the period. It is stunning in its complexity and the vibrancy that fairly oozes from the pages as you are drawn into this world with its intrigues and politics and scandals. It is a lush and opulent depiction of life in Russia that Varvara hovers on the edges of, flitting in and out of the main tale and drawing the reader ever deeper into the web of secrets and lies that make up life in the Palace.


As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
Price: £11.30

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As brilliant as the book is, 30 Nov. 2014
This review was written for 'The Review Diaries'.
You can read the full review here: http://reviewdiaries.blogspot.fr/2014...

I am a rather huge fan of The Princess Bride. I’ve been watching it ever since I was seven and my sister brought home a copy of it on video and I watched it on repeat. It has everything, it is a classic, it is utter genius and pure brilliance and if you haven’t seen this film or read the book, you need to remedy this immediately. As brilliant as the book is, I highly recommend watching the film first.

So when it was announced about a year ago that Cary Elwes would be releasing a behind the scenes making of book extravaganza, I was one of the people whose shrieks of joy could be heard the world over.

The book is beautiful, lovingly created with some gorgeous photographs and a wonderful piece of art hidden inside the dust-jacket. The whole thing reflects the film itself, it’s a labour of love with everyone involved coming together to provide stories, musings and recollections about the process and filming of The Princess Bride. It’s like putting on a favourite sweater and slippers and drinking a hot mug of tea – warm and comforting, familiar and wonderful. I laughed, I got a little teary eyed, and the whole thing was a magical experience, a beautiful way to go back and revisit the film and to hear from the team that brought it to us so many little tales from behind the scenes that helped make it even more brilliant.


Bonfire Night (A Lady Julia Grey Novel - Book 9) (Lady Julia Grey series)
Bonfire Night (A Lady Julia Grey Novel - Book 9) (Lady Julia Grey series)
Price: £1.79

5.0 out of 5 stars I adore the Lady Julia mysteries in a way that defies attempting to explain it like a rational human being, 29 Nov. 2014
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This review was written for 'The Review Diaries'.
Click here for the full review: http://reviewdiaries.blogspot.fr/2014...

I adore the Lady Julia mysteries in a way that defies attempting to explain it like a rational human being. Let’s just leave it at this: they are wonderful books and if you haven’t read them yet then you need to, because Raybourn is one of the best writers I have had the pleasure of reading. This series of books found me quite by chance when I had finished reading Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate Series and wanted something similar. Amazon, in its infinite wisdom suggested I read these, and I have never looked back.

They are brilliantly constructed mysteries with a wonderful heroine at their heart, a broodingly acerbic hero and a cast of excellent characters that make these such a pleasure to come back to. With all that in mind, when the news came out that Deanna Raybourn was parting from her publishers and the chances of another Lady Julia novel had just dropped to virtually non-existant, I was devastated. I love these books and I had hoped to get just one more book to tie up some more ends that had been left. Instead we got the novellas, and whilst I was initially hesitant, Raybourn has done a truly spectacular job of not only telling more of Julia’s story through the four novellas, but also weaving in elements of it into her three novels set in the twenties. Between them we’ve been given a very good idea of where Julia was heading and what happened to her after the events of ‘The Dark Enquiry’.


Flashes
Flashes
Price: £4.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I think I am in the minority when I say that I really didn’t enjoy ‘Flashes’. It’s an exciting premise, 28 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Flashes (Kindle Edition)
Review written for the Review Diaries. You can read the full review here: http://reviewdiaries.blogspot.fr/2014...

Huge thanks to Chicken House for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I think I am in the minority when I say that I really didn’t enjoy ‘Flashes’. It’s an exciting premise, and Charley had the potential to be a truly fascinating character, but unfortunately what was a brilliant idea never really took off for me.

The biggest problem was the obviousness of the plot, within the first twenty odd pages I had already worked out who the killer was, and whenever a large plot point like that is obvious it ruins my enjoyment of the rest of the book.

The second problem was the flatness of the characters. I wanted to like them, I wanted to feel involved, and Charley had the potential to be a fantastic heroine. Unfortunately the characters never felt fully realized, whether due to the length of the book or the concentration on the mystery elements I am not entirely sure.


The Mortal Instruments 6: City of Heavenly Fire
The Mortal Instruments 6: City of Heavenly Fire
Price: £3.66

4.0 out of 5 stars I loved them. I thought they were fresh and innovative ..., 28 Nov. 2014
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I have always been an avid fan of 'The Mortal Instruments' original trilogy, I loved them. I thought they were fresh and innovative and the characters were brilliant. Then it was announced there would be a second trilogy to follow on from the first and continue the story, and I got excited all over again about another chance to go back into this world I'd loved so much. But there was something about books four, five and now six that didn't quite recapture the magic I'd felt with the original three.

So I was looking forward to 'City of Heavenly Fire' but it wasn't with the burning enthusiasm I had come to associate with Cassandra Clare, and for me personally the book really didn't live up to my previous hype and excitement.
Don't get me wrong it's still a fantastic book with a compelling story and a host of complex and beautifully written characters, but there were a few things that just let the book down for me.


The Fortune Hunter
The Fortune Hunter
Price: £3.66

3.0 out of 5 stars I was left feeling a little disappointed at the end, 28 Nov. 2014
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I was torn by ‘The Fortune Hunter’. It was a very well written novel, filled with the level of detail that makes the events feel incredibly real whilst you’re immersed in the text, but whilst I was involved and desperate to continue reading, I was left feeling a little disappointed at the end.

I adored ‘My Last Duchess’ Daisy Goodwin’s first book, so I was very excited to realise that she had a new historical novel out. However there were a bundle of problems that marred my enjoyment of ‘The Fortune Hunter’ so that whilst it was still an enjoyable read, it was knocked from being the favourite I was expecting.

My biggest issue was the treatment of Charlotte. At the start of the novel it felt as though this was to be a love story for Bay and Charlotte, and given Bay’s declarations and feelings for Charlotte, I was more than a little bit shocked when a third of the way through the book Bay suddenly becomes completely infatuated with the Empress Elizabeth. His behaviour and treatment of Charlotte is abominable from this point on and I found myself completely disgusted with Bay and unable to invest in his story with the Empress, or with Charlotte from that point on. I was slightly appeased when Charlotte discovered his treachery and refused to have anything to do with him, but of course, she relents.


The One (The Selection, Book 3) (The Selection Series)
The One (The Selection, Book 3) (The Selection Series)
Price: £2.40

3.0 out of 5 stars and don't even get me started on the love triangle. America comes across as the sort of ..., 28 Nov. 2014
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This review was written for 'The Review Diaries'.
You can read the full review here: http://reviewdiaries.blogspot.fr/2014...

Oh this series. It's one of those ones that if I think too hard about what I'm reading I have to stop, because there is so much wrong with this series, yet at the same time it is weirdly addictive...

The series had a lot of potential, but it falls into the trap of so many cliches that really it never stood a chance. The girls are all one dimensional, the drama is all one dimensional, and don't even get me started on the love triangle. America comes across as the sort of girl who would fall apart if she didn't have one of these boys to fawn over, which is incredibly irritating. I want strong heroines. Now that doesn't mean that they don't have to want to have a partner, but at least give them something that makes them their own individual person, not have their desire for one of the inevitable two boys vying for their attention be the only feature about them.


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