#HorrorOctober: The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

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The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

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Formats: Digital, Paperback, 360 pages
Publication Details: October 16th 2013 by Severed Press
Genre(s): Horror; Humour
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

After ravenous corpses topple society and consume most of the world’s population, freighter captain Henk Martigan is shocked to receive a distress call. Eighty survivors beg him to whisk them away to the relative safety of the South Pacific. Martigan wants to help, but to rescue anyone he must first pass through the nightmare backwater of the Curien island chain.

A power struggle is brewing in the Curiens. On one side, the billionaire inventor of the mind-control collar seeks to squeeze all the profit he can out of the apocalypse. Opposing him is the charismatic leader of a ghoul-worshipping cargo cult. When a lunatic warlord berths an aircraft carrier off the coast and stakes his own claim on the islands, the stage is set for a bloody showdown.

To save the remnants of humanity (and himself), Captain Martigan must defeat all three of his ruthless new foes and brave the gruesome horrors of…THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO.

Review

This is not your average zombie pulp! The Ghoul Archipelago is a breath of fresh air to people like me who are pretty sick of zombies.

Martigan is the captain of a freighter sailing through the South Pacific in a post-apocalyptic world caused by zombies, where the mainland is all but taken over. Martigan and his crew are fighting a losing battle between ghouls, pirates and a whole host of bizarre characters vying to take control of the islands.

There’s Sonntag the ex-prison priest, a businessman who has developed a sex-dream machine, a presidential politician, and the captain, all at the forefront of this bloody, bizarre, battle which I mostly enjoyed but came away feeling a bit ‘huhhhhhh?’

I felt like there were too many characters and too many story-lines going on at once – it was pretty confusing at first, but once I got into the POV changes it got easier. I also felt like the pacing was off in places, making it seem a lot longer than its 360 pages.

But that being said, I can’t fault Kozeniewski’s vision. It has some great moments of pure horror and thrilling action, making it one hell of a ride, even if I had no idea where I was being taken.

Kozeniewski has a way of sucking you in; his writing is effortless and intriguing, mixing gory grossness with his trademark wit. He put me on the ship and it was sink or swim! I think I just about found my sea legs by the end of it….

unicorn rating 3

(Out Today!) Skyships, Pickpockets, and a Whole Lot of Lies…

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Title: Take Back the Skies
Series: Take Back the Skies #1
Author: Lucy Saxon
Edition: e-book, 496 pages
Published: June 5th 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; Steampunk
Disclosure? Yep, I received a copy via the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
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Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.

So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . .

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Take Back the Skies. I’d read a few unfavourable reviews, and found out that the author is only 19, 16 when she started writing the novel, which I realise I shouldn’t let sway me before even opening the book, but of course it does!

Then I started reading, and it was good. Really good! I was hoping to skim-read it because I’ve fallen behind on ARCS/reviews lately, but I found that I didn’t want to skim it at all, I wanted to savour it.

Take Back the Skies is a fast-paced, well written, fantasy-adventure. Protagonist Cat, is a loveable, head-strong character who I instantly felt invested in.

We follow her as she runs away from her snobbish, government father who wants to marry her off for status, to the skyship Stormdancer where she meets a colourful array of characters who soon become Cat’s family. Once in the skies, it quickly becomes apparent that things in Anglya and the surrounding islands are not as they seem. The war seems to have ended, so why are all the teenagers being ‘collected’ to go to war? Where are they?

Seriously guys, I really loved this. There was a lot of action and intrigue, and I think the world Saxon built is great. There was a lot of characterisation too, so even though Cat hadn’t known the crew of the Stormdancer very long, it felt OK how close they became. There is a cute romance between Cat and Fox, a hot orphan who likes to get his guns out – in both senses of the word – but it did start to feel a bit Twilight-y on some occasions where Fox was telling Cat that he’s no good for her and she should choose another. And also Cat thinking that he couldn’t possibly like her. Yawn.

Once they’d gotten over that though, and decided to be together, I liked that it wasn’t all Cat thought about. There was no ‘omg he kissed me and it felt amazing and I want to touch him all the time’, it was pretty much wham, bam, thank you maam (they’re wasn’t actually any ‘bamming’, don’t get your hopes up).

Cat, Fox and the rest of the Stormdancer crew were intent on outing the government and finding out what was happening to all the kids, and once they do, there’s definitely a sense of look what you’ve got yourselves into. I really enjoyed the conflict between high-society and the commoners, and the sinister operations of the government – I wasn’t expecting that plot at all.

However, I can’t wrap this up without talking about the ending. No spoilers I promise, but it was just bad. End of. There was no need for the Epilogue at all, nothing was resolved, and I only hope that the outcome makes more sense in the second book.

I’m tempted to give it 3 Unicorns just because of the ending, but the rest of it was so good, so I won’t. Any book that makes me GASP deserves 4 Unicorns.

unicorn rating 4

Take Back the Skies is available from Waterstones in Limited 1st Edition Hardback, and Paperback from today.

Currently Reading:

Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxton

takeCatherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever. So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all …

I started this last week but I’ve had next to no reading time of late 😦 However, my first impressions are good ones! I know it’s all most people are talking about, but I can’t believe Saxon is only 18 and started writing this book when she was 16. It certainly doesn’t read like it’s written by a sixteen year old so far!

I have high hopes for this steampunk, fantasy adventure.

Goodreads
Purchase (limited Hardback 1st Edition & Paperback available)
Available to pre-order now, or buy from the 6th June.

Blog Tour: Cutlass by Ashley Nixon (Review & Giveaway)

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I’m delighted to host a tour stop today for Ashley Nixon’s pirate adventure, Cutlass. It made me want to be a pirate, you guys! Keep reading for my review and to enter the awesome giveway.

cutTitle: Cutlass
Author: Ashley Nixon
Series:(Cutlass Series #1)
Publication date: April 23rd 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase from Amazon: Paperback / Kindle

Synopsis
Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

Review

I don’t think I’ve really read many good pirate books, certainly not since I started blogging, so all I really had to compare Cutlass to before I started reading was classics like Treasure Island and Peter Pan, and it turns out Cutlass, is completely different to both of those, but just as fun!

As all good pirate stories should, Cutlass starts with the kidnapping of a beautiful young woman. The infamous-beyond-his-years pirate Barren Reed and his crew gatecrash his brother William’s engagement party to kidnap Larkin (the fiancé) in an attempt to exact revenge for their father’s death. The only problem is that Larkin doesn’t seem too keen to marry William anyway, and is not quite the damsel in distress that Barren expected her to be.

I was hooked from the start of this book, despite it taking me a while to warm to Barren himself. I felt like he really came into his own as he got to know Larkin better. Larkin was such a strong, feisty character I really felt like she carried a lot of the book, which is no bad thing.

The relationship between Barren and Leaf was adorable too. Other than Larkin, Leaf seemed to be the only person who could put Barren in his place, without fearing for his life. He’s mischievous and funny, and it was easy to believe that they’d been friends forever.

Ashley Nixon did such a great job at world-building. I felt like the history of The Orient was rich and interesting and I just wanted to jump on board and sail along with them.

I did think it took a bit too long to get to the main body of the story – the hunt for the mysterious bloodstone – but even though the pacing was a bit slow at times, it reminded me of a good old-fashioned yarn so I was OK with that! I mean, everything about it screams epic adventure, from a chapter entitled Old Salt, to Barren yelling “If the sea had wanted you, I wouldn’t have been able to save you.”

I also devoured it in two sittings (OK, so I kind of had to because -DEADLINE- and I left it to the last minute but that’s besides the point!), they were two very enjoyable sittings!

I thought the use of elves, magic in a story centered around a pirates was unique and clever, and the myth of the bloodstone was intriguing. And yes I admit it, I was totally in love with Barren by the end of the book. I look forward to reading more of his and Larkin’s adventures.

“I am a pirate, I always follow my heart. It is the only thing I am loyal to.”

unicorn rating 4

Meet the Author

Ashley Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren’t used as much as she’d like.

When she’s not writing, she’s hard at work on her Master’s degree in Library Science and Information Technology, working out, or pretending she’s Sherlock Holmes.

Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she’s loved everything Fantasy–resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the ‘geek’ tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.

 

Links:
Twitter
Goodreads
Facebook
Website

Giveaway

Tour wide giveaway (INTL)

• Prize 1) A signed Paperback Copy of Cutlass, a cute octopus mug (it’s purple and ADORABLE), Bookmark, and maybe a poster.
• Prize 2) A signed Paperback of Cutlass + a bookmark
• Prize 3) E-book of Cutlass

Enter Rafflecopter giveaway

WWW Wednesday 23.04.14

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

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Currently Reading: I’m almost done with Insurgent and I’m also reading Cutlass to review for the blog tour tomorrow. It’s piratey good!

Recently Finished: Dark Eden by Chris Beckett which I reviewed here.

Up Next: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer… I know I keep saying it but I WILL get to it in the next few days! I’ve been busy with ARCs!

Teen Girls Make Good Spies Too, Buster: Take Your Last Breath by Lauren Child (Ruby Redfort #2)

I’m a bit behind on reviews so I thought I’d try and get them out today instead of a Favourites Friday post. But Happy Friday regardless!

Image from Amazon
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Everyone’s favorite girl detective is back for a second mind-blowing installment, packed with all the off-the-wall humor, action, and friendship of the first book. This time, though, it’s an adventure on the wide-open ocean, and Ruby is all at sea. . . . Can she crack the case of the Twinford pirates while evading the clutches of a vile sea monster as well as the evil Count von Viscount? Well, you wouldn’t want to bet against her.

I should have written this review when the book was fresh in my mind but hey ho, better late than never right? I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first book in this series Look Into my Eyes and Take Your Last Breath was more of the same; it didn’t disappoint.

Ruby is a great character with her sarcky, feisty wit and quick thinking. She makes these book extremely fun to read, you can’t help but cheer her on the whole way through, even if she calls people ‘Buster’ too much, and has a penchant for t-shirts with annoying slogans on them, it all adds to her unique character.

The book starts with Ruby on a deep-sea-diving training course with Spectrum, the Secret Agency that head-hunted her in the first book, which is pretty convenient considering the mission she is later assigned to happens to be about a body found dead at sea (coincidence?). This leads to all manner of crazy oceanic occurrences such as sharks in the harbour, dead turtles, ships being kidnapped by pirates, confused cargo shipping including some missing elephants and the strange whispering of the sea that only kids can hear. Oh not to mention the old legend of the sea monster which may or may not be currently strangling people.

With codes to crack and the many pieces of the puzzle to piece together, Ruby is a busy a girl and the story just flies by. It’s a perfectly entertaining, light summer read.

But, I hear you cry, but you do have to just go with it and take it with a pinch of salt. Don’t expect much realism here. I mean, I know it’s aimed at a MUCH (sob) younger audience than me but Lauren Child doesn’t even try to make the unbelievable believable. Ruby as a teenage secret agent didn’t manage to convince me enough this time round, she just didn’t seem clever, or serious enough and a lot of time she just sat around thinking but not actually doing anything. Surely the ‘real’ secret agents wouldn’t just wait for her to solve it? but they didn’t seem to really care that people were turning up dead.

Despite those things, I’m really glad this series exists. There are a lot of YA novels out there the moment featuring kick-ass girls with real personalities but not so much for the 8-12 age group which I think this falls into, and definitely not when it comes to spy novels. Comparisons to the Stormbreaker series are endless and it’s pretty cool that Ruby Redfort is out there doing it for the girls. Even if Alex Rider would totally kick her arse.

I gave Ruby#2 4/5 unicorns. My copy is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books.