Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton: Blog Tour Review

I'm super excited to be part of The Everlasting Rose's UK blog tour!  I adored this book and you should all definitely check this series out if you haven't already!  Quick warning: while I've avoided spoilers for The Everlasting Rose, there are some The Belles spoilers in here, so read on at your peril!  And definitely buy The Everlasting Rose - it's out now at all book stores and libraries near you! 


Series: The Belles, Book Two
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: ARC**
Published: 7th March 2019
Number of Pages: 352
Book: For Review*
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythical, Dystopia, YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol References
Author’s Site: Dhonielle Clayton

Blurb From Goodreads:
With a price on her head, the evil Queen Sophia out for blood, and no idea who to trust, Camellia Beaureguard, the former favorite Belle, must race against time to find the ailing Princess Charlotte, who has disappeared without a trace. Sophia's imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep Camille, her sister Edel, and her loyal guard, Rémy, from returning Charlotte to the palace and her rightful place as queen.
With the help of an underground resistance movement called the Iron Ladies-- a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely--and the backing of alternative newspaper the Spider's Web, Camille uses her powers, her connections, and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and attempt to restore peace to Orléans. But enemies lurk in the most unexpected places, forcing Camille to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice to save her people.

“But my desire to see Sophia fall has become a whispered refrain making my body restless, as if my limbs and heart know that this isn’t the place for us. That I must face her. That I must make her pay for what she’s done. That I must do what Queen Celeste would have wanted.”
Camille is a Belle – she controls beauty.  But now she’s on the run from the crazed soon-to-be ruler who wishes to imprison her and abuse her abilities.  Together with her sister and their ally Remy, Camille is in a race against time.
She needs to evade capture, find the true queen of Orléans and overthrow  Sophia – to protect the people of Orléans, but most of all to protect her sisters.
She finds allies in the most unlikely places, but when Sophia is willing to go to any lengths to achieve her desires, Camille may be forced to go to new heights to restore peace to her home and save her family...
I absolutely adored The Belleswhen I read it last year – I seriously just fell in love with it.  I adored what it said about society’s obsession with beauty and fashion trends.  I adored the lavish setting, the totally different kind of dystopia that subverted so many tropes.  And because of this, I’ve been almost ridiculously excited for The Everlasting Rose.  I had some insanely high expectations – and while I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as The Belles, I still totally stormed through The Everlasting Rose!
There was definitely a lot more going on in this one – there was way more action and I seriously loved that.  I also loved the introduction of a rebel group – it was such a cool addition and really added to the narrative about questioning beauty.  I adore Clayton’s writing – it’s so wonderfully lavish and lush and beautiful.  I really enjoyed the continued character development and especially the revelation about where Belles come from – it’s so brilliantly bizarre and I really want to know more.  
Honestly, my main issue with this was one of the character choices: Camille goes pretty dark and does something I feel was really unnecessary and made me quite uncomfortable.  I don’t want to say what, but trust me when I say you’ll know it when it happens – it’s right towards the end.  I also still have so many questions and I really hope that there’s another book because I think there’s still so much more to explore in this world!
I did enjoy the characters in this one, that blip of Camille’s aside.  She’s really grown a lot from the beginning of The Belles and is way more badass now.  I really love Remy – he’s so sweet!  
But, for me, the scene stealers of this book were the teacup dragons.  I want a teacup dragon.  I want ten.  They are adorable and precious and I love them and I want to kiss their noses and cuddle them to sleep.  
Sue me, I love dragons.
For real, though, the world was literally on of my favourite things about this book.  It is lavish and beautiful and so different.  It’s like a dystopian fantasy – about the ridiculous lengths people go to for beauty, about the blatant exploitation of those who can give you beauty, about bullying and abuse.  It’s just so cleverly done and so magical and dark and I love it.  I also am kind of obsessed with the teacup pets.  I’m unsure why they are all teacup sized.  But I love them.  And the background of the Belles.  And everything, if I’m honest.
The plot was super fast paced in this one, full of twists and turns.  I do think the ending was a touch sudden and really did leave me with so many questions!  Does anyone know if she’s planning another book?  Please tell me she is – I need!  
I hope I haven't sounded harsh, but if I have it's just because I loved The Belles so much and therefore The Everlasting Rose had a lot to live up to, bless it!  It was still a brilliant and exciting book and I definitely recommend it to you if you like fantasy-dystopias with a difference.  Basically imagine Hunger Games, but with more leeches, magical beauty powers, a crazy princess, smol dragons and the Capitol on crack.
Ok that sold nothing.  This is why we shouldn’t write reviews at 1:30am.  But I couldn’t stop, ok?  I had to find out what happened!  I had to!  
I would say I’ll regret this tomorrow... but I won’t.  And if that isn’t praise enough, I don’t know what is!

Star Rating:
4 Stars

Read this book if you liked:
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Happy Reading
*This book was received from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review
**Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear: Blog Tour Review

Series: White Space, Book One
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: Paperback
Published: 7thMarch 2019
Number of Pages: 512
Book: For Review*
Genre: Sci-Fi, Space Opera, Action-Adventure, Mystery, Adult
Recommended Age: 15+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol and Drug References
Author’s Site: Elizabeth Bear 

Blurb From Goodreads:
Haimey Dz thinks she knows what she wants.
She thinks she knows who she is.
She is wrong.
A routine salvage mission uncovers evidence of a terrible crime and relics of powerful ancient technology. Haimey and her small crew run afoul of pirates at the outer limits of the Milky Way, and find themselves on the run and in possession of universe-changing information.
When authorities prove corrupt, Haimey realizes that she is the only one who can protect her galaxy-spanning civilization from the implications of this ancient technology—and the revolutionaries who want to use it for terror and war. Her quest will take her careening from the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core to the infinite, empty spaces at its edge.
To save everything that matters, she will need to uncover the secrets of ancient intelligences lost to time—and her own lost secrets, which she will wish had remained hidden from her forever. 

Haimey Dz is a salvager and engineer – together with her partner Connla and their shipmind Singer, she travels through space to locate old ships that have been abandoned and lost.
It’s during one such mission that she encounters the mutilated body of one the largest sentient beings to exist between worlds and an ancient ship with long forgotten technology...
Despite the obvious evidence of a crime, Haimey investigates the ship.  And there she discovers technology beyond belief – technology with the power to change the universe.
And the power to ruin her life.
Because now she’s on the run – from both the government and pirates – anything to keep this technology from falling into the wrong hands.
Such as the beautiful pirate Zanya Farweather, who holds secrets from Haimey’s past and threatens to crash through all her defences…
I’ve been reading more sci-fi lately – space operas are really beginning to grow on me after reading a few of Alastair Reynolds’s books.  So when I was offered the chance to read Ancestral Night, I of course agreed – especially when I was told my review would be part of the blog tour!  And so when my bookish package came through my letter box, I instantly got stuck in.  To begin with, I felt totally in over my head – as I always do with sci-fis, especially if I dip into a space opera after reading a bunch of fantasy.  But I soon realised not only is Bear brilliant at making heavy scientific facts seem fairly easy to understand, she’s also brilliant at weaving humour into the story.  I soon got to grip with all the terms and fell totally in love with the world building.  I was totally hooked and literally speed read the book to find out what happened!  
Plus oh my gosh, I’ve never read a truly feminist, girl-power space opera before.  This is literally everything I’ve been searching for in my life.  I am in love.  I did not know how badly I needed this book until I had this book in my hands. Because not only is Haimey a brilliant heroine – she’s also a believable one, capable and witty, brilliantly female and unapologetically gay.  Yes, if you haven’t gathered, I really loved Haimey.  I just loved that she wasn’t perfect or flawless or amazing at everything.  She made mistakes, she failed, she picked herself back up again and tried again.  Plus I just loved her wit and snark and stubbornness.  And I also loved how we slowly got to know more and more about her.
The rest of the cast was great – especially her crew!  I loved the dynamics between Haimey, Connla and Singer.  They were totally like family – bickering and bantering: it was perfect!  I also want to shout out Cheeirilaq for being totally unique and weirdly adorable.  And the cats for being just everything: they were everything, you guys.  Everything.
But yes, there was a lot of world building – mainly cause there were loads of worlds and ships and futuristic stuffs to explore.  I’m awful at science (I haven’t done it for years, in my defence) but I found everything really easy to understand – or, well, simple enough that I didn’t feel totally confused.  I think it really helped that the heavy science-y things were interspersed with jokes and drama and excitement and twists and turns a-plenty.  Basically, Bear nailed it.
Also I continue to be intrigued by the concept of ‘rightminding’ – basically manipulating your brain chemistry to affect your mood.  I don’t know if this is something that happens a lot in sci-fis (I’m still fairly new to this genre) but it was just something I found really interesting! 
I believe this is the first in a series – and I really hope it is.  I enjoyed this so much and I need more female-powered space operas in my life.  Please.  And guys, if you’re looking for a non-stop adventure through space, pick up Ancestral Night.  It’s really one of the most fun sci-fis I’ve read for ages and I can’t recommend it enough!

Star Rating:
4 Out Of 5 Stars

Read this book if you liked:
The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Aimee Kaufman
Prefect Dreyfus Emergency by Alastair Reynolds
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Happy Reading
*This book was received from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review


Previous Stop On The Blog Tour: Cover 2 Cover
Next Stop On The Blog Tour: Sci-Fi Bulletin, Rambling Mads