The Almost King by Lucy Saxon

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Title: The Almost King
Author: Lucy Saxon
Series: Take Back the SKies #2
Edition: Digital ARC, 400 Pages
Publication Details: June 2nd 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre(s): YA; Steampunk
Disclosure? Yep! I was provided with a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads// Purchase


In the second book in this sprawling saga, Aleks is the youngest of four brothers, each with his future predictably mapped out. But Aleks wants more than a life in his father’s shop. So when he hears his parents worrying about money, he decides to save them the cost of his keep by running away.

Aleks joins the army—but when that doesn’t answer his problems, he breaks the law and deserts. Wanted and alone, he heads north, where he stumbles into love, adventure, and a skyship he might be able to call home . . . if he can evade the soldiers pursuing him.

Prepare for another sweeping adventure by nineteen-year-old Lucy Saxon in a series that seamlessly blends genre elements and a compelling contemporary voice.

Review

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Take Back the Skies considering the very mixed reviews it got, and I knew I’d need to continue with the series after a surprising, infuriating ending, so I was pretty thrilled to get approved for the second book.

The Almost King is set in the same world, but isn’t a continuation on Cat’s story,to my dismay. I was dying to know what that crazy ending was all about, but nooooooo!

However,The Almost King is about Aleks, the youngest boy in a large family who feels like he’s always in his older brother’s shadow and wants to do something that will set him aside from them.

Alexs’ solution is to join the military, which we know from Take Back the Skies is not as it seems.

I’m gonna throw it out there, the start of this book was written terribly. It was wooden, felt disjointed and was just very writing 101. I had expected the first book to be like that but it wasn’t, so I was really disappointed that this one was.

But saying that, it got much better after a chapter or two, and I really enjoyed it. I longed for it to meet up where the first book left off but I think it’s kind of more intriguing that it didn’t.

So all in all, I found this book to be a mixed bag, but I’ll deffo be looking forward to the next instalment.

unicorn rating 3

Top Ten Tuesday: Upcoming 2015 Releases

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Rest of 2015

There are so many releases that I’m excited about this year. Here’s my top ten!

1. The Cage ~ Megan Shepherd

I know this one is already out, but it wasn’t when I started this post so it still counts, right?

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The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

May 26th 2015 by Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins

2. Queen of Shadows ~ Sarah J. Maas

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Sarah J. Maas’s New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series reaches new heights in this sweeping fourth volume.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Expected publication: September 1st 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

3. The Seed Collectors ~ Scarlett Thomas

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THREE GENERATIONS. TWO SECRETS. ONE FAMILY TREE.

Aunt Oleander is dead. In the Garden of England her extended family gather to remember her, to tell stories and to rekindle old memories. To each of her nearest and dearest Oleander has left a precious seed pod. But along with it comes a family secret that could open the hardest of hearts but also break the closest ties…

A complex and fiercely contemporary tale of inheritance, enlightenment, life, death, desire and family trees, The Seed Collectors is the most important novel yet from one of the world’s most daring and brilliant writers. As Henry James said of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, The Seed Collectors is a ‘treasurehouse of detail’ revealing all that it means to be connected, to be part of a society, to be part of the universe and to be human.

July 2nd 2015 by Canongate

4. The Wolf Wilder ~ Katherine Rundell

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Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora’s mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans.

When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.

September 9th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s

5. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) ~ Marissa Meyer

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Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

November 10th by Feiwel and Friends

6. The Rest of Us Just Live Here ~ Patrick Ness

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What if you weren’t the Chosen One?

What if you’re not the one who’s so often the hero in YA fiction; who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…

August 27th 2015 by Walker Books

7. A Whole New World ~ Liz Braswell

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Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

September 1st 2015 by Disney Press

8. Endgame #2 ~ James Frey

[No cover at time of posting]

The sequel to the New York Times bestseller and international multimedia phenomenon, Endgame: The Calling.

Endgame is here. Earth Key has been found. Two keys—and nine Players—remain. The keys must be found, and only one Player can win.

Queens, New York. Aisling Kopp believes the unthinkable: that Endgame can be stopped. But before she can get home to regroup, she is approached by the CIA. They know about Endgame. And they have their own ideas about how it should be Played. Ideas that could change everything.

Kingdom of Aksum, Ethiopia. Hilal ibn Isa al-Salt narrowly survived an attack that leaves him horribly disfigured. He now knows something the other Players do not. But the Aksumites have a secret that is unique to their line. A secret that can help redeem humanity—and maybe even be used to help defeat the beings behind Endgame.

London, England. Sarah Alopay has found the first key. She is with Jago—and they are winning.But getting Earth Key has come at a great cost to Sarah. The only thing that keeps the demons at bay is Playing. Playing to win.

Sky Key—wherever it is, whatever it is—is next. And the nine remaining Players will stop at nothing to get it.

October 6th 2015 by HarperCollins

9. Blue Voyage ~ Diana Renn

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An intricately crafted mystery set in the contemporary Middle East.

Zan is a politician’s daughter and an adrenaline junkie. Whether she’s rock climbing or shoplifting, she loves to live on the edge. But she gets more of a rush than she bargained for on a forced mother–daughter bonding trip to Turkey, where she finds herself in the crosshairs of an antiquities smuggling ring. These criminals believe that Zan can lead them to an ancient treasure that’s both priceless and cursed. Until she does so, she and her family are in grave danger. Zan’s quest to save the treasure—and the lives of people she cares about—leads her from the sparkling Mediterranean, to the bustle of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, to the eerie and crumbling caves of Cappadocia. But it seems that nowhere is safe, and there’s only so high she can climb before everything comes tumbling down.

October 13th 2015 by Viking Books for Young Readers

10. Soundless ~ Richelle Meade

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From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

November 10th 2015 by Razorbill

This Week In Books 03.06.15

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week.

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Now: The Almost King ~ Lucy Saxon // The Testimony of a Hanged Man ~ Ann Granger

After a pretty shaky start, The Almost King has picked up, and I’m enjoying it. I’m stiiiiiiiilllllll going on my lunchtime read too.

Then: The Quality of Silence ~ Rosamund Lupton

I misread the release date for this and thought it was out this week rather than the beginning of July. Fail. But, that just meant I got to LOVE this book even sooner. It was so good! My review will be up on a couple of weeks, nearer to its release.

Next: ???

I’ll be choosing from my holiday reads which I posted about here.

New on the Shelf

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga’s Reviews) and Friday Finds hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Purchased: After last week’s binge, I didn’t buy any books this week.

Netgalley: I was really happy to be approved for The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell this week, as it was my ‘Waiting On’ pick last week.

I’m Waiting on…

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

The Girl Who Just Appeared ~ Jonathan Harvey

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This sounds crazy good!

Holly Smith has never fitted in. Adopted when just a few months old, she’s always felt she was someone with no history. All she has is the address of where she was born – 32B Gambier Terrace, Liverpool. When Holly discovers that the flat is available to rent, she travels north and moves in. And in the very same flat, under the floorboards, she finds a biscuit tin full of yellowing papers. Could these papers be the key to her past?

Liverpool – 1981

Fifteen-year-old Darren is negotiating life with his errant mother and the younger brother he is raising. When the Toxteth Riots explode around him, Darren finds himself with a moral dilemma that will have consequences for the rest of his life.

Moving between the past and the present, Darren and Holly’s lives become intertwined. Will finding Darren give Holly the answers she craves? Or will she always feel like the girl who just appeared?

Expected publication: July 17th 2014 by Pan

So, that’s my week in books, now how about yours?

If you still do a similar WWW post (or just want to join in, leave your link/answers in the comments, OR why not tweet using #ThisWeekInBooks, and I’ll come and visit!

This Month in Books (May 2015) & June Releases

I really enjoyed May!

I settled into my new job, the sun came out, Eurovision happened which is always SO MUCH FUN, and I generally just enjoyed spending time with friends and adjusting to getting up at 6 AM every weekday. Eeek! It did impact on my reading and blogging a little, and I fell behind in my Goodreads challenge, but no doubt I’ll catch up this month as I’m off on holiday this week. Yay!

May 2015 Stats

Total Posts: 17 (-1 from last month)

Books Read: 6 (-1)
The Silvered Heart ~ Katherine Clements
Heir of Fire ~ Sarah J. Maas
The Heir ~ Kiera Cass
Fairest ~ Marissa Meyer
Charlie, Presumed Dead~ Anne Heltzel
The Quality of Silence ~ Rosamund Lupton

The Breakdown:

Genres: YA (5/6); Fantasy (2/6); Thriller (2/6); Historical Fiction (1/6)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (3/6); Digital (3/6); Hardback (0/7); Paperback (3/6); Owned (6/6); Borrowed (0/7)

Most Surprising: Charlie, Presumed Dead (the ending!)
Most Disappointing: Charlie, Presumed Dead (the beginning!)
Most Exciting: The Quality of Silence
Most Swoon-worthy: Ahhh both The Heir & Heir of Fire
Most Beautifully Written: The Quality of Silence

Reviews (5)

  • Twisted Dark by Neil Gibson et al, 2/5 (View)
  • The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements, 4/5 (View)
  • The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R Carey, 4/5 (View)
  • The Heir by Keira Cass, 4/5 (View)
  • Fairest by Marissa Meyer, 4/5 (View)

Friday Features

Guest Posts, Promos and Other Highlights

  • Book Blitz: The Violet Hour (View Post)
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Books I want to borrow from the library I work in (View Post)
  • Lipsyy Lost & Found Vintage Book Shop Update (View Post)

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 06.05.15 (View Post)
  2. This Week in Books 20.05.15 (View Post)
  3. Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads (View Post)

Awards

botm-may15(I know this doesn’t come out until July but I couldn’t wait!)

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June Releases

Here’s my pick of the top June releases:

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What are you looking forward to this month?

Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel

charlieTitle: Charlie, Presumed Dead
Author: Anne Heltzel
Series: Unknown
Edition: Digital ARC, 272 Pages
Publication Details: June 2nd 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): Thriller; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I was provided with a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

In Paris, family and friends gather to mourn the tragic passing of Charlie Price—young, handsome, charming, a world-traveler—who is presumed dead after an explosion. Authorities find only a bloodied jacket, ID’d as Charlie’s. At the funeral, two teens who are perfect strangers, Lena Whitney and Aubrey Boroughs, make another shocking discovery: they have both been dating Charlie, both think Charlie loved them and them alone, and there is a lot they didn’t know about their boyfriend. Over the next week, a mind-bending trip unfolds: first in London—then in Mumbai, Kerala, and Bangkok, the girls go in search of Charlie. Is he still alive? What did their love for him even mean? The truth is out there, but soon it becomes clear that the girls are harboring secrets of their own.

No one knows whom to trust in this thrilling tale of suspense and deception.

Review

Charlie, Presumed Dead has been described as Gone Girl for the YA generation, and I can certainly see why. It is a story of secrets and lies, of twists and turns!

Charlie’s plane blew up. They never found his body, but there’s no way he could have survived that. At his funeral, two very different girls are mourning the loss of their boyfriend and it’s instantly obvious to both of them, that they didn’t know Charlie as well as they thought.

They may be polar opposites, but Lena and Aubrey now have two things in common. They both loved Charlie, and they’re convinced he’s not dead. Together, they set out on the trip of a lifetime to discover the truth. How could Charlie have deceived them so completely? Was there more to his apparent death than they first believed?

The more Lena and Aubrey share with each other, the more bizarre the truth seems. Not only was Charlie dating them both and living a double life, but they each knew different versions of Charlie. Lena’s Charlie likes one thing, but Aubrey’s Charlie hates it. As they discover more of these inconsistencies, they become more and more convinced that Charlie is not dead at all…and they’re determined to find him and get the answers they deserve.

For most of this book, I was intrigued enough to keep reading, but it wasn’t hugely exciting. I liked the dynamic between to two girls, but I never felt like either of them really loved Charlie, so I wasn’t convinced that they’d go to such measures to find out if he was still alive or not, and because I didn’t know much about Charlie, I didn’t really care that much either.

However, as the story developed and the strange clues as to Charlie’s death – or lack there of- were dangled in front of me, I got more invested. I loved the idea that Charlie was not only living a double life, but that he also had different versions of himself for different people. He was a dark, complex character who was slowly brought to life by these two girl’s memories of him.

There were a few things I found a bit off. The tone for one. It definitely read as an adult book (which isn’t a bad thing), and Lena and Aubrey seemed a lot older than they were supposed to be, despite Aubrey being quite sheltered. I don’t know why, but it just made for a strange tone as I was expecting more of a YA feel.

Charlie, Presumed Dead was a standard 3 unicorns for me the whole way through, it was good, but not great. However, I had to resist the urge to bump it up by the end…because OMG that ending! It was seriously worth it just for that. It was a total game changer, and now I can understand why some of the boring stuff had to happen.

I know that’s quite vague, but this is a spoiler-free zone. Just read it, and persevere until the end!

unicorn rating 3

Charlie, Presumed Dead is due to be released June 2nd