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Saturday, 16 January 2016

The Cloud Roads

by Martha Wells

Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight.

An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn't tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power... that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony's survival... and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell!

Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save and himself... and his newfound kin.

The Three Worlds is one of those fantasy creations you just can't get enough of. Reading The Cloud Roads, I wanted to find out more about the groundlings and their different cultures. I wanted to know more about the floating islands, the seas and underwater realms. I must admit my irrational self was disappointed that the book didn't let us see more of this, but at the same time, I knew that if it had, it would have distracted from the main story Wells was trying to tell.

This book was diverse, but not in any comparable way to our own social structures. The groundlings were perhaps the closest thing to humans, and even then they sported different skintones or other physical traits that you'd not find in the real world. It makes for a very "colourless" journey, and I found myself focusing more on the characters for who and what they were, rather than their physical appearance.

If you're looking for a fast-paced fantasy read from the get-go, then this might be the book for you.

Thursday, 16 July 2015


by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Ok, first of all, hot damn mama. I'm not usually a fan of romance, but someone grab me an ice-cold bucket of water!

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Splintered: Review by Fari

First in Splintered
by AG Howard

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

an electronic copy of the book was provided for the guest reviewer in exchange for an honest review. if you would like to know how you can review for elfswood, and to see the selection of books available for review, please click here

When I went into this book, I was very, very hesitant. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard a lot of INCREDIBLE things about this book, everybody seems to LOVE IT and that is the exact reason that I was skeptical because how can EVERYBODY love a certain book? Trust me, I’ve even met Harry Potter haters. We’re not exactly friends. So, I lowered my expectations and tiptoed into this book and oh my gosh, I fell in LOVE!! Absolutely LOOOOOOVVEEEE!!! This book is so awesome!

I am in love with this creepy, weird and yet amusing wonderland! It’s amazing and the thing is, things just… make so much sense! You don’t go like, “Well, that’s not possible because…” it all fits together with the original story and I love that about this book! I would rather go to this wonderland with talking flowers, rabbits who are actually Rabid White and where grown men can turn into pretty moths. It’s an awesome world, I think.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Invasion of the Tearling

First in The Queen of the Tearling
by Erika Johansen

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighbouring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling – and that of Kelsea’s own soul – may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

~ Disclaimer ~
An advanced reader copy was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

As before, folks. Come prepared with fries and your favourite condiment. Long and bitter review up ahead.

If ever I could use half-star ratings on goodreads, it would be now. Actual rating would be 2.5 but I decided to be generous and round up.

I gave it a go, and it passed. Barely. Enough to convince me to read the third book once it's out? Absolutely. The writing style is simplistic and yet remarkably fluid, absorbing, and just keeps you turning the pages. I urge you to also take a look at the more glowing reviews, as I doubt reading mine would actually tempt you to read this book. But really, The Invasion of the Tearling deserves a fair shake and it may just be your cuppa tea.

But all that said, I have to warn some of you (potential[?]) readers -- this book should come with its own trigger warning for rape, sexual assault/harrassment, and self-harm. To give credit where credit is due though, I did not find these topics to be used in a romanticized way or gratuitously (although it teetered there in some ways -- which I will get to in the meat of my review later).

Speaking of my review. Please do not click the "spoiler" tags unless you are in fact prepared to be spoiled.

And not in the brush-your-hair-feed-you-grapes sort of way.

Saturday, 14 February 2015


First in Abhorsen
by Garth Nix

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him.

She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories.

As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death -- and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own hidden destiny.

Protip: Don't google image search this book unless you're looking for Sam Winchester + Gabriel shipping.

Now that I've got that warning out of the way.

I was so conflicted about rating this book. It's sat there between a high 3 to a low 4, to be honest. But then I thought -- a younger Manda would probably have adored this book. My younger self, not having yet read as many fantasy novels as my old-fart-self, would have been absolutely in awe.

What's not to love? Magic, zombies, juxtaposed to a Victorian-England-esque setting, and a female protagonist whom you could actually get behind.

The fault is solely mine. I've been reading fantasy (and I don't mean romantasy) since I was five. Before you challenge me on that fact, let me assure you that I was an early reader. Betch please, when my classmates were learning their A-B-Cs, I was sitting quietly in a corner by myself, reading Enid Blyton *flips hair*. So by the time I read Sabriel, it just ...... meh.

Oh I still recommend this book, though. So long as you're not looking for anything groundbreaking, or if you're relatively new to the fantasy genre.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

On Writing: Writerly Resources

Hi writers and readers alike...

Apologies for not being able to post for the last few months. If it weren't for the lovely guest reviewers, this blog wouldn't have had any content since around November 2014.

Since work is still going to keep me swamped for the next decades to come, I thought I would fill in the void with this brief post on writing resources that I've come across. If you have any programs you use to keep yourself organized, please share in the comments. Otherwise, let me know which software(s) you use, and if it's been working for you!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Miniaturist: Review by Samantha

by Jesse Burton

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

an electronic copy of this book was provided for the guest reviewer in exchange for an honest review. if you would like to know how you can review for elfswood, and to see the selection of books available for review, please click here

As a young girl, dollhouses never interested me much. Neither did the dolls themselves – I had one Barbie, given by a friend for a birthday. The only thing Barbie did was sitting on a shelf. Now that I’m a bit older, I can see the appeal of dolls and dollhouses – not only the art of their creation, but dabbling in it, manipulating characters as one see fit.

More so if I think about the era that The Miniaturist is set in. A time when successfully running a household was a major achievement for a woman. How satisfying it must’ve been to be able to just direct this person this way and bend that other person that way, when it would take so much effort to do it in real life with everyone’s judgmental eyes set on you.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Afterworlds: Review by Fari

by Scott Westerfeld

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

an electronic copy of the book was provided for the guest reviewer in exchange for an honest review. if you would like to know how you can review for elfswood, and to see the selection of books available for review, please click here

I had pretty huge expectations for Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld because of all the hype about his Uglies trilogy and this spectacular summary! Well, I was not disappointed! A solid 4 out of 5 stars. It was a great read!

The thing I like most about this book is the fact that there is a story… within the story! One story about Darcy’s experience with the publishing and writing a novel and the other being Lizzy’s story –the character in Darcy’s book -- about discovering and exploring the Afterworld.

I enjoyed both stories, though I must admit, I did like Darcy’s story better.

Monday, 5 January 2015


Merry belated Christmas and happy new year! I hope you all are having [or had?] a fantastic holiday. I for one am looking forward to 2015 -- although I foresee a very busy year ahead for me. Hopefully I will be able to squeeze in a little blogging time, but unfortunately I highly doubt it. It's times like these I wish I had a co-blogger.

Luckily, more guest reviewers have come to my rescue last month and were kind enough to provide some reviews for the blog. Don't forget you can also post a guest review, or a discussion post. Check out how right here.

December reviews

These two books were reviewed by a long-time goodread friend, Samantha. Go check out her profile [here].

Hope you're having a great start to 2015. Have you got your reading challenge set for the year? See you soon! ~ღ

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Horns: Review by Samantha

by Joe Hill

Once, the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside...

Odd. That’s one of the first descriptions to come to my mind when I think of this book. The best I can say about it is that: (1) it kept me interested and curious until the end, I really wanted to know how it would progress and conclude, and (2) it has made me incredibly curious about the movie - I’d like to experience all those strange visuals as CG.

Never before had I heard of this book until the movie came out - it attracted my attention while at the bookstore. Mostly due to Daniel Radcliffe’s face, I suppose (hey, don’t tell me you can resist that!). I probably would never have read this book if not for the movie, which I have yet to see.