book reviews, spoiler free

The Quiet at the End of the World

32716442The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

Rating: XXXXX

Published: March 7th by Walker books

“We live in the quiet at the end of the world. The slow winding-down clockwork motions before life stops completely. Time is slipping through our fingers.

How far would you go to save those you love?
Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .

I’ve been SO excited about this book! Since Lauren revealed her next book would be about the two youngest people left alive on earth I was already intrigued and then as we got more and more information this easily became one of my most anticipated reads of this year. I was lucky enough to be gifted an early finished copy from Walker Books in exchange for an honest review and I genuinely screamed a little when I opened a package and found this gorgeous book inside. Reader, you will not be shocked I think, to hear that I was certainly not disappointed by any means and I will do my best to keep this review as coherent as possible, I promise.

The Quiet at the end of the World is a stand-alone story, so although I recommend Lauren’s other books (especially the Loneliest Girl in the Universe) you don’t need to have read them to enjoy this book and not connected to each other (at least in anyway that seems apparent at the moment) so don’t worry if this is your first Lauren James book!

The Quiet at the End of the World features a one-page prologue and if I had needed any more persuasion to read this book this would have absolutely tipped me over the edge. It’s simple yet super effective and quintessentially a style I have become to identify as Laurens. The rest of the book itself is paced exceedingly well, moments that might have otherwise been a little quiet and slower paced, like the beginning are sprinkled with great pieces of information to help you create this eerie, mostly abandoned and degraded vision of London that main characters Lowrie and Shen inhabit as what their day to day life consists of and what it means for them and the people around them. The book only continues to up the pace as the story unfolds and let me tell you it is a wild ride!! The plot is so cleverly put together, filled with breadcrumbs and questions and more mysteries but in true Lauren James fashion, even when I thought I knew where everything was going she STILL managed to pull a fast one on me and knock me for six. Unfortunately for me, this happened at one in the morning when I had decided to just read one more chapter, I nearly gave my poor husband a heart attack and didn’t sleep until the sun was already starting to peek through the bedroom curtains.

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Somehow it just manages to get even better from there and although there are some slower moments here and there for you to catch your breath they are, again filled with brilliant and useful information in the form of social media posts from Maya and Riz who I would also consider main characters in this book and to me, every bit as important as Lowrie and Shen. Not going to lie, I’m dreading the thought of anyone ever going back to look at my social media posts, heck I wrote them and even I hate going back over them sometimes!

The characters in Quiet felt so memorable and real, like most of the other information in this book it felt organic as we learnt so much about everyone. Although Lowrie and Shen are probably considered the main characters, as above I would argue that Maya and Riz are equally important and I felt that I knew them almost as well as Lowrie and Shen to some degree. There’s also Mitch the bot who is honestly the loveliest, sweetest thing and I love him to pieces despite his seemingly limited mode of communication which I think is Quiet possibly one of my favourite things in the book, it was done so well and although Mitch cannot communicate with words, Lauren has done a brilliant job at having his personality shine through regardless. There is, as expected a little romance in this book and it didn’t overly bother me as it felt so natural, I enjoyed the relationships that were present with or without the romantic element and although one or two times I did feel that I definitely read those bits faster on occasion to get back to the “main story” I still enjoyed them. Lauren has a gift for creating great connections and wholesome, healthy relationships that I will never get sick of.

This book made me cry, it made me laugh and it made me yell uncontrollably at 1am and I would absolutely do it all over again. I would say I wish it was longer as I read it in under forty-eight hours but I think it was honestly a perfect length, I will definitely have to read it again at least a few times and I cannot wait to do so. Lauren James is both an evil genius and a wizard with the spell she weaves with her newest book, it’s essentially a dystopia but it’s so full of warmth, love and light, a book that sounds like it should make you feel hopeless and impossibly small instead inspires hope and a greater sense of worth and your place in the world and the legacy of the human race. The Quiet at the End of the World is classed as a Young Adult book but I think it could appeal to any age group who feels comfortable with the subject, there is a lot of reflection and contemplation that can be done about the human race and its future as well as what exactly makes us human which I think could lead to some great discussions and certainly makes one reflect on themselves and future generations. The Quiet at the End of the World is out Thursday March 7th and defintley well worth checking out!

Stay tuned for all things Quiet at the end of the World this week, already lined up I have a special Q&A with author Lauren James, coverage of the Quiz at the end of the world event and a book talk video. I’m so excited I’ve even whipped up a mood board below for the occasion.

Are you excited to read The Quiet at the End of the World? Have you checked out any of Lauren’s other books? What would you do if you were one of the yongest people left alive on earth?

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book reviews, book talk, dungeons and dragons, spoiler free

Dungeons and Dragons: Endless Quest Books

This week I’m excited to review something that brings some of my favourite things together, books, Dungeons and Dragons and Choose your own adventure. These style of interactive gamebooks rose to popularity in the ’70s and ’80s, such as Lone Wolf, Fighting Fantasy and Find your Fate as well as the most well known, Choose Your Own Adventure books. The idea was that not everyone had the friend or means to be able to play Dungeons and Dragons and other RPG’s like it but still longed for that style of personal, decision-based storytelling that has become so addictive and these books were a great way to capture some of that magic.

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In 1982, the original publishers of Dungeons and Dragons saw these books as an opportunity to bring in new players and so they too released their own series of books, titled Endless Quest, which were more about the story than combat like the Lone Wolf books for example. Now with the rising popularity of Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop roleplaying games) thanks, in part, to the success of shows like Critical Role and High Rollers as well as the more open “geek culture” we enjoy today the Endless Quest books have returned! Penned by American writer and game designer, Matt Forbeck, new books were released in September last year as hardbacks aimed mainly at a middle-grade audience, although easily accessible and enjoyable by anyone with an interest in Dungeons and Dragons. The four books feature unique storylines in a multitude of popular D&D settings such as the dangerous, winding Underdark and the murky streets of Waterdeep while each one also focuses on a particular class, these four in particular star a fighter, a cleric, a wizard and a rogue.

Two of our friends gifted us the set as a Christmas present and I’ve loved reading through them multiple times! They feature brilliant art like that you find throughout the source books for D&D and although they seem small each adventure is packed with choices giving the reader multiple outcomes, not all of which are good.

38398948To Catch a Thief – Rogue
When you tried to pick the pocket of a civilar in the night-shrouded streets of Waterdeep, you never thought she’d catch you — and you never dreamed she’d force you into her service. Now you must find the baby griffon stolen by the beholder Xanathar, leader of the city’s powerful Thieves’ Guild. And if you should fail . . . you can count on spending the rest of your life behind bars, rogue. 

To Catch a Thief was the first of the four I read as I play/have played a good few Rogues in my time and it seemed a good place to start. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of art inside these books and reading about some of the popular characters from the Waterdeep campaign was a lot of fun. In my first read, I made it about three quarters through before I met my untimely demise but made it through the second time fairly easily. The story didn’t feel especially limited to a Rogue to me but enjoyable nether the less.

38398950Big Trouble – Wizard
When evil giants attack your home in Ardeep Forest, your parents think you’re dead and they go hunting for your missing little brother. You wake up and set out after them, helped by a giant wizard who lives in a flying tower. You don’t know where they’ve gone, but you know that if you don’t find them, you’re all in big trouble. Wield your magic wisely against the giants, wizard.

I died pretty early on in Big trouble to my absolute shock. I don’t play a lot of spell caster classes in the game and I often tend to forget just how squishy some of them can be. I found this one to be the hardest by far and died about four or five times, I did manage to survive twice but with unsatisfactory endings and a pretty good one. Despite having now read through Big Trouble at least eight times I’m fairly certain there’s still more to discover and plan to give it a few more tries still! This one felt a lot more suited to the chosen class of Wizard, although I definitely think it would fit an arcane trickster rogue too and as my favourite rogue archetype, this made me pretty happy.

38398947Escape the Underdark – Fighter
You awaken in an underground cell, stripped of your armor and your sword. Your fellow prisoners inform you that you’re trapped in the Underdark, soon to be taken to the great drowcity of Menzoberranzan and sold off as a slave. But word is that demons are stirring in the underworld’s depth. Perhaps you can use that to break free, fighter.

I love all things Underdark and as expected this is one of my favourites, unlike with the first two I read I found I actually got attached to the two characters who accompanied me which I hadn’t expected and after making two choices that led to my death it was third time lucky and got the best ending of any of the four books I’ve experienced. Although this is the Fighter book though I really didn’t think there was much that was hugely fighter specific to it but it was hugely entertaining even still.

38398952Into the Jungle – Cleric
The Harpers have lost one of their own, a legendary adventurer named Artus Cimber, keeper of the artifact known as the Ring of Winter. They’ve hired you to travel to the jungle-clad land of Chult to find him. If only you can manage to find Cimber before the frost giants do — or the zombies that infest the land get you first. You’re in the jungle now, cleric.

I’m not really a fan of dwarves and I’ve never been too sure of clerics but Into the Jungle totally won me over and is my favourite of the bunch. In one of the games of D&D, I play with friends we’ve had our fair share of run-ins with undead creatures and necromancy which I think added another level to this story for me. I only had to go back on one choice to accomplish the task my character had set out to complete but the journey there was heartbreaking and done so very well,. Into the Jungle definitely fit my style of storytelling more and not only had a brilliant and evocative storyline (in my playthrough at least) but also felt the most right and fitting for it’s chosen class.

In conclusion, I found the new series of Endless Quest books to be well worth the read and are a great way to dip your toe into the world of Dungeons and Dragons or to get you by until your next game session. Published by Studio Press Books, all four of these are available now and I’m hoping we’ll get some more classes in the near future. I would especially love to see Ranger, Warlock and Bard ones in particular!

tbr thursday

TBR Thursday – September

41257907_544949169272346_2817201184115261440_nA new month is here and with it a new attempt at a monthly TBR. Being a mood reader it’s hard to stick to much of a TBR at times but it went fairly well last month so fingers crossed it goes just as well this month!

Currently Reading:
One Way by James Morden
I’m enjoying One Way but finding myself with a little less time to read now I’m writing so although I absolutely plowed through the first half the second half is taking me a little longer.

Whats Next?

Mirror Mirror by Cara Delevingne
One of my books from the summer secret santa exchange and the perfect way to round off my whodunnit phase and ease me back into YA for…

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
I started reading this after getting a copy in FairyLoot last this year but I just haven’t got back around to it, I have trouble reading hardbacks and this really slowed me down with it but I’m super stoked to finally get into it after realising there are dragons.

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Figure by Mazzy

The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli
The sequel but not sequel to The Last Namsara, I was lucky enough to be offered an advance copy of this book and a spot on the blog tour, the release date for The Caged Queen is September 25th though so I better get a move on, especially if I want to read the first book in the Iskari series first!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
I keep going to start this book and getting distracted by something else but with Vengeful coming out in September as well it’s finally time to stop dawdling around and get this book read! Vicious like Nevernight is a book that seems like it will really appeal to me and that always makes me wary of books which is ludicrous I’m aware but like Nevernight (which I’ve also still not read) I’m worried that I’ve managed to over hype the book for myself so I’ve held off on it. I’ve already preordered Vengeful so lets hope I’m right and love Vicious.

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Also featuring sneak peek of Overlord sampler by Sian Jefferson (more info soon!)

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
After reading the first few chapters I knew I would love this book but as part of a series during a time when I was really trying to not start a series it got left on the shelf for a bit longer. Now it seems I’ve left it so long that the TV show is coming out in around 19 days so I figure this was another book I needed to get a move on with. I’m hoping I’ve read enough to be able to at least watch the first episode of the show though as I’m sure there’s almost no way I’ll get through all of these books in time. I can dream though right?

None of these are particularly small books and the newest (and last) season of The Originals has just appeared on Netflix so I think I might need some serious luck to get through all of these books in less than a month so wish me luck and let me know what you are reading this month and if we have any of the same reads!

#SixforSunday

S4S -Favourite blog posts I’ve written

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So todays Six for Sunday prompt is all about my blog! My six favourite blog posts I’ve ever written. I’ve been blogging properly since February this year which is only just about seven months. I really feel like I’ve grown over time and it was strange reading some of my older posts and noticing the differences. After much deliberation however these are (in no particular order other than I started back in Febuary and scrolled up) my six favourite blog posts.

1. Why I read YA at (almost) 30
This was (I believe) one of the first “think piece” type posts I wrote. I’m really proud of it and I’d love to write more as and when I have the time (potentially soon!) They say you never forget your first and I remember spending weeks going back forth with this, drafting and redrafting etc. It was certainly an experience and I still stand by it and am very proud of it.

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2. The Women of Star Wars
I LOVE this post. Again I loved doing the reasearch for it as well but it was just so nice to go back and really realise just how many fantastic women we have in the Star Wars universe. Leia Organa was such an important part of my child hood, as were characters like Padme as I grew up and even now I’m so happy and thankful for Rey. This post helped me to celebrate the women I often saw as role models and were inspirational to me.

3. I like Twilight and I Hate Fandom Toxicity
This post was inspired by the Lovely Lydia at SilverWolfReads. I remember reading her Twilight post and realising just how crappy people are about not only Twilight but so many fandoms, book or otherwise to the people who love them. Gatekeeping and or putting down people’s hobbies and fandoms are something I am not on board with. Enjoy Love Island? It’s not my thing but I’m glad that you enjoy it! I remember cranking this post out in under half an hour in the end because my fingers just flew over the keys, I knew exactly what I wanted to say.

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4. When Someone Reads a Book You Love
This post brought back a lot of lovely memories from when me and Chris were reading the Illuminae files books together. It was so much fun to watch him experience a book I had just read and loved while also coming to terms that not everyone will always like the same things as you and that’s totally okay.

5. S4S – Questions for Authors
This post was when I decided to tweet some of my favorite authors all the same question “What is your favorite thing about being an author” and it was so lovely and heart warming to see all the fantastic replies. This post is one of my most cherished posts and I find it’s also lovely to look back at when I’m having a particularly hard time writing.

6. The Exact Opposite of Okay Book Review
I had decided originally I wasn’t going to pick any of my reviews because although I may or may not have loved the books I feel the same about most of them in that I’m proud of them and they hold the memories of that book for me. My review for The Exact Opposite of Okay felt like much more than that and is my favourite review I’ve written to date which is why it’s made the list.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about and maybe even reading my favorite blog posts! I don’t have loads of time to go through every single Six for Sunday post I see but I’m going to put a bit more time away this week to go through and read people’s top six blog posts because I feel like a really good way to get to know the people whose blogs I read daily.