Ruins – Joshua Winning

“We are the children of the Dark Prophets.”

Filled with monsters, magic and mystery, Ruins is the thrilling second instalment of the critically-acclaimed Sentinel Trilogy.

In his desperate search for answers about the Sentinels, an ancient society of demon hunters that his parents belonged to, fifteen-year-old Nicholas Hallow is tipped into a fresh nightmare of terrifying monsters – and even more sinister humans – which threaten to send the world spiralling into chaos. Can Nicholas track down the mysterious girl who holds the key to their fate?

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Please note that whilst this is a spoiler-free review of Ruins, by the very nature of discussing the second book there may be spoilers to the preceding novel, Sentinel.

In Ruins I was delighted to see the return of some of my favourite characters from Sentinel.  Sam continues to represent for older heroes, Liberty for the POCs, and we begin to see hints of LGBT representation, and not where I initially expected.  Isabel continued to delight me with her feline wit, grump and feistiness.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world building and mythology and I’m curious to know if this is based on existing mythology or entirely from the author’s imagination.  The story is split between various characters which almost had an action movie feel of changing scenes to follow the drama, although at times it was shrewdly tantalising (“Noooo, I want to know what happens to Sam next!”).  I found the recaps of the previous book a little frustrating – it’s important to have the sequel readable either without the first novel or sometime after, so this isn’t a criticism of the author but rather a compliment, showing how eager I was to continue with the story.

There was some clever intrigue as to who the mysterious girl could be and which ‘side’ certain characters were on.  The villains were both dangerous and interesting, and the eventual Big Bad was suitably terrifying.  The Gentlemen in Buffy episode Hush? Yeah, that level *shudder*.

An excellent sequel to Sentinel that really drew me into this world and left me eager to dive back in for the finale, if somewhat anxious at what horrors may lie in wait!

Both Sentinel & Ruins are currently only 99p on Kindle.  Stop by tomorrow for my spot on the Splinter blog tour.

Disclaimer: I was sent ecopies of the trilogy for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are, as always, entirely my own.

4-Star

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Sentinel – Joshua Winning

“What is a Sentinel? A guard. A detective. A killer…”

They are the world’s best-kept secret – an underground society whose eternal cause is to protect the world against the dark creatures and evil forces that inhabit the night.

Now Sentinels are being targeted, murdered and turned as the fury of an ancient evil is unleashed once more. And when 15-year-old Nicholas Hallow’s parents are killed in a train crash, the teenager is drawn into a desperate struggle against malevolent powers.

Sentinel is the first book in the Sentinel Trilogy – a world of unconventional heroes, monsters, murder and magic

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I recently read and reviewed Josh Winning’s dark, gritty thriller Vicious Rumer, and absolutely loved it, so when I was offered the chance to take part in the blog tour for Splinter, the Sentinel series finale, I leapt at the chance.  I loved Josh’s writing style – the descriptions are incredibly vivid, almost visceral in places, and you can see that in evidence in Sentinel, which was his debut novel.  I felt his style had become slicker and more accomplished by Vicious Rumer.

The pace of the novel felt quite gentle, yet it is actually action-packed from the word go.  We begin by meeting the Hallows as they travel on their ill-fated train, and despite knowing the fate that awaited them I was slightly annoyed to find that the author managed to make me feel attached to them and somewhat cheated when the inevitable tragedy occurs!

There were some wonderful characters.  I particularly loved Sam – he has a great character and it was wonderful both to have some representation of an older generation and to see him trying to overcome his age to continue the same lifestyle he managed when younger.  Isabel!  I won’t say why I was so attached to Isabel (spoilers) but I enjoyed her feisty nature and quirks.  I was less fond of Jessica as she seemed somewhat contradictory – for me her vulnerability didn’t quite seem to tally with her role and history.

I particularly enjoyed how we were tantalisingly drip-fed information about Sentinels, learning with Nicholas as he gradually uncovers this world.  I was left with the feeling that there is still a lot more to unearth.  There was some fantastic blurring of the lines between good and evil where our ‘good’ characters are faced with some difficult choices.  This was a really enjoyable fantasy novel which left me with a pleasurable anticipation of the next instalment.

Sentinel is currently only 99p on Kindle.  Stop by tomorrow for my review of the Sentinel sequel, Ruins.

Disclaimer: I was sent ecopies of the trilogy for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are, as always, entirely my own.

4-Star

Crush – Eve Ainsworth

Love hurts…

but should it hurt this much?

Will is handsome and loving – everything Anna has always dreamt of.

He wants her to be his alone.

He wants her to be perfect.

But at what cost?

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If you read even a little of the white text on the cover of Crush, you can immediately tell that it narrates an abusive relationship.  I was really pleased that the book began when Will and Anna first meet, as it shows the insidious, creeping onset of his manipulation of Anna.  “Why doesn’t X just leave?” is a query commonly voiced in instances of domestic violence, and this book helps show the gradual exertion of control and isolation that many abusers are able to wield over their victims.

Whilst there is less physical violence than I had anticipated from the cover text, this is definitely an uncomfortable read.  It is so clear from outside the relationship when Will is being controlling, deceitful and manipulative, and yet Anna just can’t see it.  I found it quite unsettling, especially as I recognised some of the gas-lighting behaviour as that shown to me in a previous relationship.  Much like Anna, I didn’t recognise it as such at the time.

One of the most interesting aspects is that the author also interwove diary excerpts written by Will through the main story.  I can imagine they were not particularly pleasant to write, but it’s incredibly well done.  The author manages to show us some of Will’s history and reasons why he acts the way he does, but without in any way excusing his behaviour.  Meanwhile through the main narrative we are shown Anna’s thought process and emotions as Will’s dominance grows.

I think it’s extremely important to have books such as this that shine a light on toxic relationships, potentially help people identify such behaviours in friends, family or partners, and open discussion on abuse.  I would dearly love to see a version of this book where a male is the target for the same reasons.

The plot is excellent, and the characters and relationships well developed, but most notably it’s a sensitively and cleverly written portrayal of an extremely important issue.

4-5-Star

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is ‘Best books I’ve read in 2018’, as a round up of the first half of the year.

Thanks to my reading challenges this year, I’ve managed to read a lot more than in the past few years, so I had a good selection to chose from.  In fact the majority of these are on my ‘read, want to review’ list, in which case I won’t say more about them just yet, and I’ve linked my reviews to those that have already made it off that list.  Here are my favourite books read this year so far, proudly boasting a Hufflepuff medal:

The Island at the End of Everything – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

One – Sarah Crossan

Ink – Alice Broadway

How to Stop Time – Matt Haig

The Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo

Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Gemina – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Obisidio – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Splinter – Joshua Winning (Stop by on the 20th July for my spot on the Splinter blog tour)

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#SixforSunday

#SixforSunday is a meme hosted by the lovely Steph at A Little But A Lot, and this week’s prompt is books that made you laugh.  I love reading for a huge number of reasons, but one of those is that a book that makes you chuckle is brilliant medicine.  Here are some that I have definitely laughed out loud at.

Noah Can’t Even – Simon James Green

Poor Noah.  He lurches from one embarrassing siutation to the next.  This book is good for a chuckle, and has some very sweet moments as well.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – JKRowling

Mr Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.
Mr Prongs agrees with Mr Moony and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git.
Mr Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a Professor.
Mr Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slime-ball.

The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura M Steven

There are some hilarious turns of phrase in this debut novel.  You can read my review here.

Obsidio – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

If you ever read this trilogy, make sure to read the acknowledgements too, they’re hilarious.  I also remember being very entertained by a chat group conversation in which all other characters are swearing royally, and the older ‘dad’ type is berating them for their language.

Red Dwarf Ommnibus – Grant Naylor

I’ve chosen a proper throwback here that I first bought years ago due to friends’ liking for the TV show.  The book is fantastic, but unfortunately having read that first, I never found the show as enjoyable.

Geek Girl – Holly Smale

I read this in a public place, garnering curious glances from strangers because I kept giggling!

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Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is ‘Books with red, white and blue covers’ in honour of the 4th July tomorrow.  Happy Independence day to my American friends and readers.

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Crush – Eve Ainsworth

It’s on the ‘read, must review’ list.  Really well written.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

I’m so looking forward to reading this & really enjoyed the film it inspired

Spark – Alice Broadway

This book is so gorgeous!  I can never resist the opportunity to include it in a blog post.

One of Us is Lying – Karen M McManus

You can read my review here.

Dear Charlie – N.D. Gomes

The book that triggered the creation of this blog! You can read my review here.

Invictus – Ryan Graudin

You can read my review here.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

A very sweet story of teens dealing with cancer.

Noah Can’t Even – Simon James Green

This is another on the ‘read, must review’ pile.  A great, light-hearted read.  I’m planning to pick up the sequel at YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) this month.

The Taste of Blue Light – Lydia Ruffles

I’ve heard great things about this book.  I’m wondering if I can sneak it into the Owl Readathon this month and read it before meeting the author at YALC.

The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

I’m in love with this cover.  I picked it out as a possible for the Herbology Owl in the Owl Readathon.

 

OWLs Readathon 2018

If you’ve stopped by my blog before you may have seen me mention the 3 reading challenges that I’m taking this year.  Yesterday I confessed to being disappointed to only have managed to finish one book in June, so naturally the only logical way forward is to….take on another reading challenge.  *Chuckles* I’m incorrigible.

This particular challenge only caught my attention a couple of days ago.  It originally took place in April this year, with a follow-up challenge to occur this August.  This means that people who missed out in April are taking the challenge in July instead, and I desperately wanted to join in because….IT’S A HARRY POTTER THEMED READATHON!!

Booktuber Book Roast came up with the idea of a readathon themed around the OWL exams at Hogwarts.  The idea is to select a book for each subject, read as many as possible during the month of July, and receive a grade based on how many were completed at the end.  Never have I been excited about exams before!

This month I’ll be attending YALC (Young Adult Literary Convention), so I have picked out books from authors who will be attending, or books from my review pile.  Here are my current selections:

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Ancient Runes (A book with a symbol on the cover) – Splinter by Joshua Winning

Arithmancy (Read a book with a number on the cover or in the title) – Countless by Karen Gregory

Astronomy (Read a science fiction novel) – Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

Care of Magical Creatures (Read a book that includes magical creatures or features a magical creature on the cover) – The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

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Charms (read a fantasy book) – Angels & Magic

Defense Against the Dark Arts (Book about/featuring secret societies/clubs) – Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Divination (Read a book featuring prophecies) – The Fandom by Anna Day

Herbology (Read a book with a nature related word in the title) – The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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History of Magic (Read a historical fiction) – The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Muggle Studies (Read a muggle non-fiction book) – The Self-Care Project by Jayne Hardy

Potions (Read a book about/with alchemy) –  by JKRowling

Transfiguration (Read a book that deals with transfiguration/shapeshifting or similar theme, or A book with a cat on the cover) – Ruins by Joshua Winning

Now, we can only take NEWTs in subjects that we’ve passed at OWL level, so the advice is to prioritise preferred subjects, but some of these are review books that I’m eager to read and post about, so I may have to take my chances!  Wish me luck.