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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Review 27. Digging in the Stars


Title: Digging in the Stars
Author: Katherine Blakeney
Publisher: Blaze Publishing [thank you for the ARC]
Published: March 28th 2017
Pages:
368 pages 

"A lost ancient civilization and the tomb of a legendary king lie buried beneath centuries of ash on the volcanic planet Thror, but that’s not the only reason sixteen-year-old Carter has tricked her Archaeology of Outer Space class into coming here. Her best friend Conrad has just disappeared on a trip to Thror, leaving behind little more than a broken vintage camera. The strange and disturbing photographs she manages to extract make her suspect Conrad’s disappearance is somehow connected to the hidden tomb of the last king of Thror.

Unfortunately, the ludicrously over-friendly ‘Furry Giants’ who have taken over the planet’s barren surface would rather offer her cheap souvenirs than answers, and the local officials insist they have no record of Conrad’s existence. Inspired by fear for Conrad’s life and the chance to make the greatest archaeological discovery of the century, Carter and her friends follow Conrad’s footsteps deep into the mountains of Thror’s forbidden Black Zone and launch an illicit excavation.

Coded messages, stunning ancient ruins, and clues left by Conrad himself begin to surface as the young archaeologists fall victim to an alarming series of accidents staged by the increasingly hostile Furry Giants. Piecing together a history of dictatorship, terrorism and disguise, Carter glimpses the horrors beyond Thror’s flamboyant façade and startling revelations about the friend she thought she knew. The masks of Thror hide devastating secrets, and the golden tomb buried deep in the frozen core may claim the lives of everyone she loves.
"

"She dreamed of faces concealed by long-nosed masks, of voices murmuring like water, and place figures swaying among bubbles of fragrance. Then her throat was filled with ash, and she could smell nothing but smoke." 

Plot: Carter, named after the famous Howard Carter, is in a mission: find her best friend Conrad who went missing in Thor, a planet where technology doesn't work and where a great civilization was lost after several volcanic eruptions. In order to reach Thror, Conrad lies to her Archaeology classmates and professor, who delegated her the task of booking the trip to their apprenticeship in Magnus. However, Thror is not what meets the eye. The planet is a mysterious wasteland with secrets hidden at every turn and Furry Giants who created a touristic empire, but have no record of Conrad's existence - even though they were the ones who informed Carter about his disappearance. 

I won't lie. It is clear to see that this is Katherine Blakeney's debut novel (it was something that could also be seen it in Leigh Bardugo's first novel and look where she is now). The writing is flawless, but I had a few issues with the structure. Some scenes don't seem to be in harmony with the rest of the story and, during my reading, I felt that sometimes there would be a jump, I mean, it was if some scenes were left in the middle or were cut (bear in mind that I read an ARC; most novels are edited even after ARCs are distributed). Although the main character is sixteen, the story in Digging in the Stars seems more turned to middle-graders than young adults. 

Characters: If I had to choose a favourite character, it would be Professor P. I enjoyed her sarcasm and how she dealt with the over-friendly Furry Giants (at the beginning, the ways these creatures flirted with the Earthly women was funny, but after a few pages of flirtation it felt a bit annoying). Through the story, I felt over the fence with Carter because of her behaviour. Conrad, her best friend -and potential love interest- was missing and probably dead, yet, one moment she was worried about him, the next moment she thought Conrad wanted to steal her destiny (superiority complex, much?) and in the next one all she wanted was to find King Loreval's tomb and Conrad was all forgotten. Nonetheless, Carter is a brave girl who fights to reach her goals.

Then, there is the rest of the archaeology class, which I found kinda of flat. There were a few times I did mistake Allison for Bryanne (or maybe it was the other way around). Their personality is very similar. However, Lizzie showed personality with her snarky observations. For most of the novel, Gioconda was not around, which is disappointing because of her hippy persona was more interesting than Allison/Bryanne personality. 

Worldbuiling: The worldbuiling is the strongest suit of Digging in the Stars. There is so much to be learned and discovered in Thror's wasteland. The planet is crafted down to the tiniest detail, from its history to its mythology, which is slowly unraveled by the Golden Vial League; from the Furry inhabitants and their souvenir markets to their lost ancestors. An entire planet was brilliantly created from the scratch. Extraterrestrial archaeology was something I never saw developed in any other book and I found the idea intriguing and unique. I ended up loving all the archaeology references and little bits. 
Friday, 17 March 2017

Cover Reveal. Paintbrush


As a Blaze Publishing rep, I've the pleasure to reveal to you the cover of Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin. What do you think of it? I'm very fond of its colours. And how the flower was conceived, the petals turning into teardrops (or maybe I'm reading too much into it). Anyway, this minimalistic cover is simply beautiful.

If you'd like to have an opportunity to receive a ARC of Painbrush, just click here for an opportunity to join Blaze Publishing Review and Promotional Network.
 
Paintbrush is expected to be released in July 11th 2017.
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
"Mitchell Morrison and Josie Sedgwick have spent their whole lives at the Indian Paintbrush Community Village, a commune full of colorful characters tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, and they aren't particularly close--at least, not anymore. Josie wishes she could spend all of her time at Paintbrush planting tomatoes, hiking the trails, or throwing giant communal birthday parties, while Mitchell can’t wait to escape the bizarre spiritual sharing and noisy community dinners. Luckily for both of them, high school graduation is just around the corner.

But when Mitchell’s mother makes a scandalous announcement that rocks the close-knit Paintbrush community, and Josie’s younger sister starts to make some dangerously bad decisions, the two find themselves leaning on each other for support – and looking at each other in a whole new light. Their childhood friendship blossoms in to something more as they deal with their insane families, but as graduation approaches, so does life in the real world, forcing Josie and Mitchell to figure out what, exactly, their relationship is – and if it can survive their very different plans for the future."
Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Waiting on Wednesday. Hunted


"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week on WoW is Hunted by Meagan Spooner. I'm literally impatiently waiting for my copy of Hunted to arrive at my door step as it already was released. I was so happy when I received an e-mail telling me that this Beauty and the Beast retelling had been sent sooner. Hopefully I'll have it by Friday -or maybe by the beginning of the next week. The book was released on March 14th


Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
"New York Times bestselling author Meagan Spooner spins a thoroughly thrilling Beauty and the Beast story for the modern age, expertly woven with spellbinding romance, intrigue, and suspense that readers won't soon be able to forget. Beauty knows the Beast's forest in her bones--and in her blood. After all, her father is the only hunter who's ever come close to discovering its secrets. So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters out of their comfortable home among the aristocracy and back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there's no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas...or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva's father's misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he'd been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. The Beast. Deaf to her sisters' protests, Yeva hunts this strange creature back into his own territory--a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of magical creatures that Yeva's only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?"

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Review 26. Three Dark Crowns, Kendare Blake


Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author:
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: September 20th 2016
Pages:
407 pages

"Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
"

"Three Black Witches
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen."

Writing: I'm was no stranger to Kendare Blake's writing when I first picked this book. Anna Dressed in Blood is one of my favourite horror novels and it made me fall in love with her writing style. Thus, I found myself quickly captivated by Three Dark Crows. The plot was very intriguing and I found myself flipping page after page. I especially enjoyed how Blake wrote the three sisters so differently; how Katharine, Arsinoe and Mirabella had different personalities. I never felt I was reading the same character.

 “In her mind, every last Queen lies at the bottom of the sea, drowned by the Goddess the moment she was done with them.”

However, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. A few times the plot rhythm would change and certain situations would happen out of the blue, and I was left wondering what had just happened. Thankfully, this didn't happen often or probably I would not be impatiently waiting for the sequel, One Dark Throne.     

Characters: There were a lot of characters in this story. Each chapter in the novel switches between the triplets and there was a bunch of different characters surrounding them. I don't feel I disliked any of the main characters, but there was always a issue or another that would raise my eyebrows.

Maybe my opinion is biased because I received the elemental cover, but Mirabella was my favourite queen. She became my favourite because while Katharine and Arsinoe were so obsessed with becoming powerful, Mirabella missed her sisters and worried about them. She didn't want to murder her kin. Nonetheless, SPOILER, I'm not sure how to feel about her "pseudo-relationship" with Joseph (principally because I suspect their bound was forged through magic).

"You will need it to be true, for it is too cruel otherwise, to force a Queen to kill what she loves. Her own sisters. And for her to see that which she loves come at her door like wolves, seeking her head.” 

On the other queens. I was really warming up to Arsinoe, but then she started being corrupted by blood magic. I don't dislike her, but her pursue to gain power made me so disappointed. Katharine's story didn't catch my attention as much and as result all I feel for her is indifference - even if her struggle with the blisters and all the consequences of the poisoning made me feel sorry for her.

On a last note, was I the only who found the love-interests lackluster? Perhaps, I just wasn't expecting so much romance...

Worldbuilding: I was expecting the worldbuilding to be a lot more darker. All the blood I was expecting to be shed... I blame it on Anna Dressed in Blood and on this novel's premise. However, this little detail didn't stop me from enjoy this magical and dark island. A well-developed world is always a plus and Fernbirn was splendidly crafted. The Elementals, the Poisoners, the Naturalists (loved the idea of an animal-familiar), the mythology behind the queens... I simply loved meeting a world so complex and with so much of offer.  
Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Waiting on Wednesday. Digging in the Stars


"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week on WoW is Digging in the Stars by Katherine Blakeney. Did I ever tell you there was a moment in my life that I wanted to become an archaeologist? Then I realized that all the sites I wanted to work on had already been dug and my dreams were shattered. But it's okay because at least I can read books that talk about space archaeology. Since the Starbound trilogy that I fell in love with sci-fi and Digging in the Stars seems a perfect choice to make my love for this genre grow even more. The book will be released on March 28th


Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
"A lost ancient civilization and the tomb of a legendary king lie buried beneath centuries of ash on the volcanic planet Thror, but that’s not the only reason sixteen-year-old Carter has tricked her Archaeology of Outer Space class into coming here. Her best friend Conrad has just disappeared on a trip to Thror, leaving behind little more than a broken vintage camera. The strange and disturbing photographs she manages to extract make her suspect Conrad’s disappearance is somehow connected to the hidden tomb of the last king of Thror.

Unfortunately, the ludicrously over-friendly ‘Furry Giants’ who have taken over the planet’s barren surface would rather offer her cheap souvenirs than answers, and the local officials insist they have no record of Conrad’s existence. Inspired by fear for Conrad’s life and the chance to make the greatest archaeological discovery of the century, Carter and her friends follow Conrad’s footsteps deep into the mountains of Thror’s forbidden Black Zone and launch an illicit excavation.

Coded messages, stunning ancient ruins, and clues left by Conrad himself begin to surface as the young archaeologists fall victim to an alarming series of accidents staged by the increasingly hostile Furry Giants. Piecing together a history of dictatorship, terrorism and disguise, Carter glimpses the horrors beyond Thror’s flamboyant façade and startling revelations about the friend she thought she knew. The masks of Thror hide devastating secrets, and the golden tomb buried deep in the frozen core may claim the lives of everyone she loves."
From Goodreads
Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Teaser Tuesday. The Unseen & Digging in the Stars

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB @  Should Be Reading.
Welcome to my first ever Teaser Tuesday. Last Sunday I was chosen to be a Rep for Blaze Publishing (isn't the badge adorable?) and I couldn't be more excited. So, I've decided that in my first ever Teaser Tuesday I'd would bring to you some excerpts of soon-to-be-released books from my new bookish family.

The Unseen by Jacob Devlin 


"Crescenzo and his friends may have survived their confounding journey to the enchanted realms of Florindale, but now they find themselves fighting for their sanity and lives while stuck on the other side of the very mirror they set out to destroy.

With their families trapped by a former ally with a crippling fear of the queen, Enzo, Rosana, and Zack must play a deadly game in Wonderland, where shadows are on the move, kings are at war, and one of them wants Rosana dead.

As darkness hovers over the world, the friends must lean on each other and stop the King of Hearts from following through on Avoria's orders: Break them.
"

Teaser - "Pino curled up next to Carla, pulled her close, and hugged her. Wherever they were going, they were going together. That was almost all that mattered, except for one thought that would continue to gnaw at his mind; Crescenzo, he thought. My son, please be safe, wherever you are."

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

The Unseen in the sequel of The Carver published last year. I confess I haven't read the first book yet, but after this teaser I just added it to my wishlist. Also, isn't this cover gorgeous? *.* You know I can't resist to a pretty cover.

Digging the Stars by Katherine Blakeney


"A lost ancient civilization and the tomb of a legendary king lie buried beneath centuries of ash on the volcanic planet Thror, but that’s not the only reason sixteen-year-old Carter has tricked her Archaeology of Outer Space class into coming here. Her best friend Conrad has just disappeared on a trip to Thror, leaving behind little more than a broken vintage camera. The strange and disturbing photographs she manages to extract make her suspect Conrad’s disappearance is somehow connected to the hidden tomb of the last king of Thror.

Unfortunately, the ludicrously over-friendly ‘Furry Giants’ who have taken over the planet’s barren surface would rather offer her cheap souvenirs than answers, and the local officials insist they have no record of Conrad’s existence. Inspired by fear for Conrad’s life and the chance to make the greatest archaeological discovery of the century, Carter and her friends follow Conrad’s footsteps deep into the mountains of Thror’s forbidden Black Zone and launch an illicit excavation.

Coded messages, stunning ancient ruins, and clues left by Conrad himself begin to surface as the young archaeologists fall victim to an alarming series of accidents staged by the increasingly hostile Furry Giants. Piecing together a history of dictatorship, terrorism and disguise, Carter glimpses the horrors beyond Thror’s flamboyant façade and startling revelations about the friend she thought she knew. The masks of Thror hide devastating secrets, and the golden tomb buried deep in the frozen core may claim the lives of everyone she loves.
"

Teaser - "At that moment, he was no longer a sick teenage boy; he was a huge, ferocious bird of prey, a creature of the night. He was as powerful and mesmerizing as the magnificent, winged figure of Mephisto on the screen, enveloping a miniature town with his black wings as he exhaled contagion and death."

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Another beautiful cover for me to love. Between, am I the only one who can't wait to dig into Digging in the Stars? Its summary is so compelling that I simply can't wait to fall into this world.
Sunday, 5 March 2017

Monthly Recap. February 2017



Another late monthly recap. Maybe I shouldn't have written last month that I was back on track (all the reviews I still have to share around here!), but at least I'm not being overwhelmed with all the uni work for now. Talking about uni, I'm proud to announce that I received my last mark and I can now say that I passed with flying colours. I'm feeling proud of myself - especially after how everything is my life has been turned upside down since I lost my Mufasa; I really need reasons to smile and feel pride.   


The moment you realize you finished seven books. 🙀 How did this happen?! I know most were for uni but I can't believe I read so much. I can't remember last time I read so many books in a month.
  • Everland, Wendy Spinale
  • Illusions of Fate, Kiersten White
  • Mechanica, Betsy Cornwell
  • Delta Wedding, Eudora Welty [read for my masters]
  • Man in the Dark, Paul Auster [read for my masters]
  • Moon Palace, Paul Auster [read for my masters]
  • The Plot Against America, Philip Roth [read for my masters]
      Everland and Mechanica were really disappointments. Damn you high expectations! The insta-love between Pete and Gwen in Everland and how the plot only happens in two days just wasn't for me. I was so in love with the idea of a Peter Pan retelling mixed with Steampunk, but this book didn't live up to my expectations. In Mechanica I did love the fact that the main character was very strong and that it depicted positive female friendship, but the last fifty pages of the story were just a huge disappointing mess. When I finished the story, I felt I had been cheated. Illusion of Fate was a very enjoyable reading. I really liked its twists (I was soooo not expecting that) and because of such I wish the book had been longer.    


      Is it bad that I can't be sure of which books arrived at my shelf this month? 🙈 I'm sure I received a few more but those were for uni and as you know I never mention those in my book haul because I had to buy them; I did not acquire them because I wanted to as it happens with other books. Here are the books that I remember acquiring this month.

      • A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab
      • Hidden Huntress, Danielle L. Jensen
      • The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
      • The Help, Kathryn Stockett (I already owned a translated version, but I found this really adorable English edition that I just had to have it)

      Random & Randomness, as the name indicates, is about random bookish stuff. Inspired by a few blogs, I decided to create this little space where I share some bookish love. Ps.: Because my mind has been a mess, I'm not sure if all these news were releases in January.
      • Funkos, funkos and more funkos! - Have you seen all the funkos announced this month? Beauty and the Beast (film edition), Kindgdom Hearts, Despicable Me. Aren't the gorgeous? *.* I think I'll go bankrupt...
      • Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Release - I need it! It makes me so depressed not having this game on my hands yet. Kingdom Hearts is one of the last things that connects me to happy days. I still remember the day I first saw the first game announced on a magazine and then how it felt having it on my hands for the first time. Now, I'm feeling like playing and I can't because I don't have the time. 😿 
      • More Beauty and the Beast news - I'm just leaving the link to the film's twitter page because there has been so many stuff coming out that it's impossible for me to mention it all in this post. Am I the only person whose song always brings goosebumps?
      • Leigh Bardugo's "The Language of Thorns" - I'm trying to keep up with all the book announcements, but it's really difficult when my schedule is so busy. I couldn't believe I missed this January announcement! Who is ready for some more Grisha world? 🙋 Out in September 26th.