Blog Tour

  • Blog Tour,  Book Review

    Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz | Book Review

    Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz
    Release Date: 14th March 2023
    Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
    Source: Publisher, NetGalley
    Rating: ★★★.5
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    Seventeen-year-old Anaïs just wants tonight to end. As an outsider at the kingdom’s glittering anniversary ball, she has no desire to rub shoulders with the nation’s most eligible (and pompous) bachelors—especially not the notoriously roguish Prince Leo. But at the stroke of midnight, an explosion rips through the palace, killing everyone in its path. Including her.

    The last thing Anaïs sees is fire, smoke, chaos . . . and then she wakes up in her bedroom, hours before the ball. No one else remembers the deadly attack or believes her warnings of disaster.

    Not even when it happens again. And again. And again.

    If she’s going to escape this nightmarish time loop, Anaïs must take control of her own fate and stop the attack before it happens. But the court’s gilded surface belies a rotten core, full of restless nobles grabbing at power, discontented commoners itching for revolution, and even royals who secretly dream of taking the throne. It’s up to Anaïs to untangle these knots of deadly deceptions . . . if she can survive past midnight.

    I’m a huge fan of time loop and time travel stories so when I saw that Midnight Strikes was that AND a fantasy story, I was immediately intrigued. The idea of the main character looping again and again in order to save herself and others was *chef’s kiss*.

    I think the time loop part of this book was handled well, although you could definitely argue that it went on for a little too long. This didn’t bother me as I’m a huge fan of the trope, but I think others might get a bit bored as the main character took ages to really learn anything. I had also recently read another time loop book and so I was already in the correct headspace for this.

    As I find often with YA books, the romance was just fine. I find it difficult to get attached to ships nowadays and I think it’s mostly a me problem. I didn’t feel loads of chemistry between the main character, Anais, and her love interest Leo. Maybe younger readers would enjoy it more, though, because you definitely get a lot of tension and drama with Leo not remembering the previous loop each time!

    Overall this was a fun fantasy timey wimey story, and I’m really happy that I picked it up. I think it’s a strong debut and I can’t wait to see what Shahnaz brings out next!

    I received this book from NetGalley as part of the TBR and Beyond blog tour! Check out the rest of the bloggers and Instagrammers on the schedule to read their thoughts.

    About Zeba Shahnaz

    Zeba Shahnaz writes fantasy full of political intrigue, twisted romance, and a healthy dose of existential angst. A proud Pakistani-American, she translated her love of storytelling into a graduate degree analyzing national identity, culture, and cinema in South Asia. She grew up in New Jersey, which she has yet to fully escape (though not because of a time loop). MIDNIGHT STRIKES is her debut novel.
    Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

  • Blog Tour,  Book Review

    Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim | Book Review

    Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim
    Release Date: 24th January 2023
    Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
    Source: Publisher, NetGalley
    Rating: ★★★
    Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

    In the hidden desert city of Qalia, there is secret spice magic that awakens the affinities of those who drink the misra tea. Sixteen-year-old Imani has the affinity for iron and is able to wield a dagger like no other warrior. She has garnered the reputation as being the next great Shield for battling djinn, ghouls, and other monsters spreading across the sands.

    Her reputation has been overshadowed, however, by her brother, who tarnished the family name after it was revealed that he was stealing his nation’s coveted spice–a telltale sign of magical obsession. Soon after that, he disappeared, believed to have died beyond the Forbidden Wastes. Despite her brother’s betrayal, there isn’t a day that goes by when Imani doesn’t grieve him.

    But when Imani discovers signs that her brother may be alive and spreading the nation’s magic to outsiders, she makes a deal with the Council that she will find him and bring him back to Qalia, where he will face punishment. Accompanied by other Shields, including Taha, a powerful beastseer who can control the minds of falcons, she sets out on her mission.

    Imani will soon find that many secrets lie beyond the Forbidden Wastes–and in her own heart–but will she find her brother?

    Spice Road was on my most anticipated list for 2023 so of course when I saw it was available on NetGalley I had to grab myself a copy. I am a sucker for Middle Eastern inspired fantasy and I had great hopes for this one. I loved the sound of the magic system which is somewhat based on tea, combined with djinn and ghouls and all the usual creatures.

    The main character, Imani, is super loyal to her family and also quite powerful. She showed a little of the “not like other girls” trope but I overlooked it to be honest because I was enjoying reading about her relationship with her sister so much and I was willing to forgive.

    Her relationship with the two guys in this book is going to be very hit or miss for readers. I think a lot of people will like Taha, the broody soldier, even if he is a bit much. Qayn was intriguing, but I’m not sure I really bought into him being an actual potential love interest considering he’s thousands of years old.

    Anyway, the romance wasn’t the main draw at all and I pretended none of it happened.

    I found the beginning of the story to be incredibly info-dumpy. The reader is given Imani’s entire backstory, the history of the world, and Imani didn’t actually uncover anything like the synopsis suggests. However! Past the 20% mark things really got going and the whole thing was a lot more interesting. I thought the world building was very intriguing and contained themes of colonisation, secrets, and betrayal.

    Overall, this was an intriguing debut and I’m glad I had the chance to read it.

    I received this book from NetGalley as part of the TBR and Beyond blog tour! Check out the rest of the bloggers and Instagrammers on the schedule to read their thoughts.

    About Maiya Ibrahim

    Maiya Ibrahim is the debut author of SPICE ROAD, publishing January 24, 2023 from Delacorte Press and Hodder & Stoughton. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Technology Sydney. When she isn’t writing, reading, or spending time with her family, she enjoys video games, gardening, and expanding her collection of rare trading cards. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

    She is represented by Peter Knapp of Park & Fine Literary and Media, Claire Wilson of RCW Literary, and Mary Pender-Coplan of United Talent Agency.

    Website | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

  • Blog Tour,  Book Review

    Five Survive by Holly Jackson | Book Review

    Five Survive by Holly Jackson
    Release Date: 29th November 2022
    Genre: Young Adult Adult, Thriller
    Source: Publisher, NetGalley
    Rating: ★★★★
    Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

    Eight hours. Six friends. Five survive. A road trip turns deadly in this addictive YA thriller from the bestselling author of the worldwide phenomenon A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER.

    Red Kenny is on a road trip for spring break with five friends: Her best friend–the older brother–his perfect girlfriend–a secret crush–a classmate–and a killer.

    When their RV breaks down in the middle of nowhere with no cell service, they soon realize this is no accident. They have been trapped by someone out there in the dark, someone who clearly wants one of them dead.

    With eight hours until dawn, the six friends must escape, or figure out which of them is the target. But is there a liar among them? Buried secrets will be forced to light and tensions inside the RV will reach deadly levels. Not all of them will survive the night. . . .

    Content Warning: guns, death threats, mob violence, death, injury

    A plan must have two parts. You have to make sure either way pays out in your favour.

    Did you know that the Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series is one of my favourites ever? No? Why not? I talk about it constantly because I absolutely adore the world that Holly Jackson has created there. The original UK editions are set in my home county of Buckinghamshire and mention places that I’m intimately familiar with, which is probably why I’m so connected to the series. Five Survive is a little different in that the original version is (I think) set in the US. There were no rewrites for this one!

    Due to the setting, Five Survive has a bit of a different vibe to it than AGGGTM. At least, I think so. I’ve not read the US editions of AGGGTM so I can’t say how American readers will feel about the vibe in general. Something about it felt very strange in the beginning and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I was a little disappointed at first because I was expecting to want to devour this book from the start, but instead it took a good fifty pages to grab me.

    Once I was grabbed, however, I was grabbed. I read the entire rest of the book in just one sitting because it was so enthralling and it had me on the edge of my seat. I was racing to find out what was going to happen to Red, the main character, and her friends. I figured one of them would be a bit dodge and I had theories on who it could be, so I had a lot of fun trying to sus out the story and figure out what was happening and why.

    It was love; thorny and complicated and sad and happy. But it was a red feeling too.

    While I was disappointed by the change of setting, I can see why this book is only set in the US in both versions. There is absolutely no way in hell Jackson could have set this book in the UK and pulled it off. Can you imagine snipers shooting at a caravan in Buckinghamshire? I think not.

    Five Survive is certainly not my favourite book by Holly Jackson because there’s no way it could beat her original series. I was very attached to Pip and Red didn’t have the same charm. I was actually a bit confused by Red’s characterisation for most of the book and I do wonder what the edits did to her character. By the end, though, I was quite worried about what was going to happen to her.

    I really enjoyed my experience with Five Survive and I can’t wait to see what Holly Jackson comes out next. I will keep hoping she returns to writing books set in Buckinghamshire because I truly believe that’s what she does best, but this book and setting certainly had its place.

    I received this book from NetGalley as part of the TBR and Beyond blog tour! Check out the rest of the bloggers and Instagrammers on the schedule to read their thoughts.

    About Holly Jackson

    Holly Jackson was born in 1992. She grew up in Buckinghamshire and started writing stories from a young age, completing her first (poor) attempt at a book aged fifteen. ‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’ is a YA Mystery Thriller and her debut novel. She lives in London and aside from reading and writing, she enjoys binge-playing video games and pointing out grammatical errors in street signs.

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