Monday, 20 February 2017

Early Review: The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury

I was lucky enough to buy an early copy of the final book in Mel's phenomenal Sin Eater series and it was incredible. I hope you enjoy my early review.

The final battle is coming . . .

As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever . . .

Explosive, rich and darkly addictive, this is the stunning conclusion to Mel Salisbury's internationally best-selling trilogy that began with The Sin Eater's Daughter.

Absolutely perfect.

(Can I leave it there? No? Really? But I don't know what else to say... Fine.)

In all seriousness The Scarecrow Queen really was the perfect ending to the perfect series. I of course won't spoil anything but what I will say is that justice wins out, both for the story and for the characters. Where The Sin Eater's Daughter focused on Twylla, and The Sleeping Prince on Errin, The Scarecrow Queen really brings them both together for an epic adventure and ties everything up in a neat little bow. With a few splashes of horror and gore of course.

Aurek's darkness really shines (Irony?) in this book too and I'm honestly still feeling shivers from it. He is a fantastic villain, his motivation and morality flawless. In some weird way I'm going to miss him.

Most importantly though I'm going to miss Twylla, Merek, Errin and Silas. They were all such wonderful heroes and I have adored the last three years of cheering for and crying with them. Melinda has given fitting endings for all though, and I couldn't be happier. This series, though finished, will forever live in my heart.

I would say I'll miss Mel's writing too, but she's already hinted that she has more up her sleeve. I cannot wait.

If you've read The Scarecrow Queen do let me know your thoughts (non spoilery of course) in the comments below. If you're looking forward to its release, let me know that too. Or you can always @ me on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

A Quiet Kind of Thunder: A Day Without a Voice

Over the winter period bloggers were given the task by the lovely team at MacMillan (@MyKindaBook) of thinking about their life, in one day, if they didn't have a voice, for the release of A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard. I honestly had a tough time with this, being I've never even lost my voice to a cold, which is why my post is a little later than the book's release.

I suppose, thinking theoretically, it would really hurt not to have a voice, even just some of the time, because how would you know if and when anxiety might cause your voice to disappear, just like Steffi in the book? How can you know what you might be able to say and what you might not?

Steffi notes about hurting the bus driver's feelings by not being able to say thank you, and I would feel the same way. But moreover, what if I couldn't say 'I love you' to my mum and dad whenever I need to, or couldn't tell them to 'be careful' as they left for work?

I wouldn't be able to chat animatedly about books as I love to do, or thank authors for their fabulous work at signings. Shopping would be harder, unable to ask for a bookseller's recommendation or talk about titles we both enjoyed.

All in all, everything would be that much harder.

Most importantly I wouldn't have an opinion, because really what is an opinion without a voice?

But I think that all of this is what lends Steffi so much strength in the book. I haven't finished it just yet, but from what I've read so far, she is trying - fighting - to not let this beat her; to have as normal life as possible, including falling in love, and I just think that's a wonderful message by the author.

Have you read the book? How would you cope without your voice for just one day? As always do feel free to leave me a comment below, or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

ARC Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

A fantasy that speaks volumes, Frostblood is an amazing debut from author Elly Blake. Big thanks to Hodder for the gorgeous ARC.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge. Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

A thrilling fantasy with a poignant heart, Frostblood is a book I tore through in a handful of days and absolutely adored. Following our heroine Ruby, the only Fireblood in a sea of Frostbloods, it tells the tale of revenge, love and disarray in a world where individuals are separated and hunted just for the temperature of their skin and their elemental ability or affiliation. Ruby was a fantastic heroine to follow, strong willed and passionate. When she loses everything it is her strength and courage that leads her through the trials and tribulations she then must face; least of all the taming of her fire by a Frostblood whose icy heart she's slowly melting, named Arcus.

Arcus too was a marvellous character, first a thorn and then a rock for Ruby to lean on. His presence and chemistry with Ruby was ever a joy and I honestly can't wait to see what happens in book 2. My favourite character was quite easily Brother Thistle, a sage of wisdom against the Frost King's blindsided racism (or elementism, I suppose?) that helped make the book as poignant as it was. Beyond the glimmer of magic and realm of fantasy, Frostblood is very much a thought provoking book and one I definitely suggest everyone should read.

Elly Blake has outdone herself with this debut and I am now anxiously awaiting the release of book 2, entitled Fireblood. Frost blood meanwhile is definitely a 5* read I urge you all to put on your TBR if it isn't already.

Have you read Frostblood? What are your thoughts? As always do let me know in the comments below or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

ARC Review: Famous by Jilly Gagnon.

Released today is the wonderful Famous by Jilly Gagnon which I had the pleasure of reading over the Christmas period. Big thanks to the team at Harper Collins/Harper360 for the ARC, in exchange for which is this honest review.

In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?

Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

I'd like fries with that.

Such a simple comment and yet posting those 5 words on social media becomes a nightmare for main character Rachel. 100 flits. 200. A thousand. 100k. 1m. 10m. Suddenly it's an overnight sensation, but not necessarily in a good way. Potential love interest and crush Kyle - pictured with the quote - becomes akin to a pop star. Fame, a gaggle of girls and followers, talk show appearances; he's got it all. Rachel meanwhile becomes the subject of hate, trolls and disdain. Her life spins out of control thanks to a stupid game with her best friend, and she doesn't know how to fix it. But when Kyle catches wind of her situation and the TV companies decide a reality segment with the two of them would be the next big thing, will it make things worse, or will she finally get her chance at love?

That question is one of the parts of Famous I loved most, the constant wondering of whether the two characters would find their happy ending amongst the 'live drama' and Gagnon executed it perfectly. I absolutely loved the fine line between 'reality' and 'pseudo reality', both on the page and in the individual characters' minds, watching as forced feelings mixed with real feelings and they had to struggle to separate the two. I adored the fun, quirkiness of the story, the enjoyment of watching love and drama unfold.

What I also really loved about Famous, and what does deserve special mention, is the key messages. Famous shows one side of the dangers of online media, how something can be seen by everyone, and nothing can truly be deleted, which is a crucial message. The book also focuses very specifically on bullying and harassment - a message I feel strongly about being someone who suffered from bullying much during school years - taking the stance that IT IS NEVER OKAY and really driving it home within the fun and quirky narrative.

Overall Famous was a delightful yet hard hitting read that I really would recommend and which I award a highly deserved 5* rating. I will definitely be checking out Jilly's other work, past of future.

Have you read Famous? Is it on your TBR? As always, do leave me a comment below or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 13 February 2017

Beat The Backlist: January Wrap Up and February TBR

With the end of January comes the start of February, and that means it's time for my monthly post depicting what I've read for the Beat the Backlist challenge in the month just gone, and what I'm hoping to next.


Count: 1

Emma Hearts L.A. by Keris Stainton. Review here.

February TBR

Count: 4

Fix You by Carrie Elks
The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
Shadowplay by L.R. Lam
Ruined by Amy Tintera

So as you can see, I'm really hoping to quadruple my effort this month. Wish me luck!

Are you taking part? What's your Feb TBR? As always do let me know in the comments below or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf