REVIEW - INVICTUS by Ryan Graudin

by Ryan Graudin
Publisher - Orion Children's Books
Release Date - September 21st 2017
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

My Review! 
I've read some books this year but nothing like this, not in a loooong time. This book needs to have the television or film rights to it, because this should be seen in all media. It's absolutely truly mesmerising and totally addictive. I couldn't put it down! 

In 95 AD, Recorder Empra McCarthy fell in love with a gladiator, she's been a part of this time for over 9 months, she is about to give birth to his child. Leaving her love was the hardest thing to do but right now the baby inside of her is coming out... born out of time on the ship Ab Aeterno lives a boy, a soon-to-be cadet and future Recorder Faraway McCarthy. In present time (at the moment), 2354, Far wants to travel, explore time, record history first hand, but when a Maria Antoinette, winks at him, he fails his right to even graduate as a Recorder and be captain on an Academy vessel. He gets a second chance and becomes captain of his ship, the Invictus, with his cousin historian, chai tea extraordinaire, Tetris nerd he couldn't be more at home in the stars. But his story both begins and ends with him. Time as we know it is about to be erased, Far's existence has defied the laws of nature, and now he needs to fix it against the Fade. 

This book people, it blows your mind! I completely at the mercy of Ryan writing, it's pure genius and it won't be the last compliment I will be giving her. What I loved about it is that Invictus is a journey, a journey of characters, of time, of history, and more importantly of self discovery. I was enthralled and fascinated by the world of this novel with the imagination, accuracy and history. How although primarily Faraway and his crew record time, it's like your part of that time with them and they were recording you with Maria Antoinette or next to the band on the Titanic, or in tunic in 95 AD. It's totally surreal but that's just how amazing Ryan is in her writing style, the imagination and creation of that within the book. I adored it!

Told is alternate characters of the crew, you really have a bag of different characters. My favourite being Faraway's cousin, Imogen, she chalks the ends of her hair everyday, she bright, wonderful and always full of happiness and optimism. Her persona is just totally infectious, sweet and just makes me laugh. There was also some very untold chemistry upon the vessel too, I loved the romantic aspect between Faraway and Priya and also the sweetness of Gram and Imogen, that relationship was particularly adorable and frustrating. You just wanted them to bang each others heads together. Although I admit, I would have loved to have seen more of a development of the their relationships from the beginning. But I'm totally nit picking. At the end of the day, they have each other's backs throughout time and whatever happens, these characters are a family and you completely fall in love with them all.  

This is my first venture into Ryan's novels, and her writing is golden, powerful and completely addictive. As soon as you start the book it's action from the word go, it's fast-paced, full of adventure you really can't put it down. The MatrixDoctor Who and Star Trek, it combines the greatness of the time-travelling genre in one book. A sci-fi time travel novel in YA is very hard to come by these days, the last one I read was probably a good couple of years ago. But I have to say that Invictus really hits the sci-fi nerd in me.

Rating - 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Today is the release day of this very stunning book and I have to say that this is on my favourite books of 2017, it's just hazes brilliant and I'm so excited that this book is out in the world today! I have also got a Twitter Giveaway for 3 signed copies so make sure you head over to my Twitter @nverjudgeabook ASAP! But before I share my post with you, here is a little more about INVICTUS.

Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.
This book really resonated with, I felt I was part of the book, part of every time that Far and his crew visited, so I asked Ryan, her publishers, and people on Twitter this:

If you could travel back in time, anywhere and record it, be part of it, where and when would you go?

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Ryan Graudin
"If I could travel back in time, I would choose Paris in the 1920s. Not simply because of the dresses mind you, but because of the culture of arts that was blooming in the city in the wake of World War One. Many famous writers flocked to the city. I think it would be amazing to travel back and attend one of Gertrude Stein's salons, and party with the likes of Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. (If you've ever seen the movie Midnight in Paris, that is what I want, with pretty flapper dresses.)"
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Naomi – Team BKMRK

"I’m terrible with dates, but my dream would be to travel back to a time when evening entertainment consisted of parlour music. I can think of nothing more delightful than finishing dinner and then adjourning to the parlour and playing/singing away the hours."

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Steph – Team BKMRK

"If I could travel back in time, I’d have to go to either the Georgian or Victorian period. I’d love to see what inspired some of my favourite classic writers; from the balls and romance of Jane Austen to the colourful characters and busy streets of Charles Dickens. I know it’s not all rosy in those eras, but the writing of these authors captures so many vivid moments including small female acts of rebellion to the raw passion of the poorer classes and I’d love to see what they saw."

Me (Emma)

"Ancient Egypt, 18th Dynasty. I knew straright away what I was going to say, it's not very exciting but it's something that I've always loved. The way of life, the worship of Gods and Goddesses and culture. I've always been fascinated with Ancient Egypt when I was little. I had all the books and I particular loved the Howard Carter and his find of the Pharaoh, Tutankhamun. Longs I'm not mummified in the process then we are all good. Ha."

I also asked on twitter and this is what you had to say:

Thank you to everyone who participated, especially Ryan and Team BKMRK. Don't forget to head over to my Twitter for a chance to win a signed copy of INVICTUS!


Hi Everyone, I'm super excited to be part of this blog tour for Amanda's Foody's debut, Daughter of the Burning City. The book sounds incredible, as soon as I saw circus it reminded me of the elements to Lisa Heathfield's book Flight of a Starling, which I loved obviously. I got this book ready at the beginning of my week, eager to read this but sadly with being back to school and work, I read only 12 pages because I was shattered so instead of my review which I will have for you in the coming weeks, I have been a brilliant except of the beginning of the book that really sets the book up and make you want to read on...or buy it in your case. So before I share the extract here is a little more about the book.

Daughter of the Burning City
by Amanda Foody
Publisher - Harlequin
Release Date - September 7th 2017
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

I peek from behind the tattered velvet curtains at the chat- tering audience, their mouths full of candied pineapple and kettle corn. With their pale faces flushed from excitement and the heat, they look as gullible as dandelions, much like the patrons in the past five cities. The Gomorrah Festival hasn’t been permitted to travel this far north in the Up- Mountains in over three years, and these people look like they’re attending the opera or the theater rather than our traveling carnival of debauchery.
The women wear frilly dresses in burnt golds and oranges, buckled to the point of suffocation, some with rosy-cheeked children bouncing on their laps, others with cleavage as high as their chins. The men have shoulder pads to seem broader, stilted loafers to seem taller and painted silver pocket watches to seem richer.
If buckles, stilts and paint are enough to hoodwink them, then they won’t notice that the eight ‘freaks’ of my freak show are, in fact, only one.
Tonight’s mark, Count Pomp-di-pomp—or is it Count Pomp-von-Pompa?—smokes an expensive pipe in the second row, his mustache gleaming with leftover saffron honey from the pastry he had earlier. He’s sitting too close to the front, which won’t make it easy for Jiafu to steal the count’s ring.
That’s where I come in. My job is to distract the audience so that Pomp-di-pomp doesn’t notice Jiafu’s shadow-work coaxing the sapphire ring off of his porky finger and dropping it onto the grass below.
A drum and fiddle play an entrancing Down-Mountain tune to quiet the audience’s chatter, and I let the curtain fall, blocking my view. The Gomorrah Festival Freak Show will soon begin.
This is my favorite part of the performance: the antici- pation. The drumbeats pound erratically, as if dizzy from drinking several mugs of the Festival’s spiced wine. Every- thing sticks in this humid air: the aromas of carnival food, the gray smoke that shrouds Gomorrah like a cloak and the jit- tery intakes of breath from the audience, wondering whether the freak show will prove as gruesome as the sign outside promised:
The Gomorrah Festival Freak Show. Walk the line between abnormal and monstrous. From the opposite end of the stage, behind the curtain on stage right, Nicoleta nods at me. I reach for the rope and yank down. The pulley spins and whistles, and the curtain rises.


The Potion Diaries (Potion #1)
by Amy Alward
Publisher - Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date - July 2nd 2015
Buy - Amazon | Book Depository

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.

No big deal, then.
My Review 

“There's no mistaking what kind of potion I need. Caffeine - for alertness and rejuvenation.”

Okay, so that wasn't what I was expecting at all... I know my students love these books, especially my year 7's and 8's and I guess I never really thought to read these if I'm honest. But then I received all three of them for the release of the final book Potion Diaries: Going Viral. (Thank you very much publishers) I was going on holiday I kinda knew that these would be the perfect book, light, cute, easy-read and you got to admit that the covers are gorgeous.

Princess Evelyn wanted to have a choice on her life, on love, she didn't want to be forced to marry someone, all this pressure being royal is no fun and she wants to fall for someone. Only Zain, she's been in love with for a long time, but the thought of marriage...well it may not be on the cards. So she creates a love potion - which is illegal in Kingstown. She pours it in their goblets on the evening of her birthday party. It worked, she's not only fallen head over heals in love, but it's with herself! The ...Horn brings all the best alchemists that can create the potion to counteract the potion, to cure the Princess. So when alchemist apprentice, Samantha Kemi and her Grandad are called, she knows it's the best way to try save the Kemi legacy, save the store, and a time to prove herself and to ZACorp. It becomes a race against time to find all the ingredients, meet and find untold relationships and friendship and be the best that Sam can be. The Princess is not your average royal, she is Talented, quite strongly too so when you have such a powerful potion consuming you, her power becomes uncontrollable and the fate of Kingstown is very much at risk and Sam is the only one who can save her... no pressure then. 

Through the dual POVs of both Evelyn and Samantha, we got both ends of the story whether that Sam in the Wilds finding the ingredients or Evelyn trying to copying with being in love with Lyn, (also known as her reflection.) I personally found Evelyn's part particularly funny, I could not stop laughing, although there is obviously a seriousness to it too, I mean Kingstown is in danger because of her. That is why the love potion is illegal. But my favourite character has to be Sam, I felt that throughout her story, she grew so much, as a person, as a daughter and most importantly as an alchemist. I can't deny the fact, that she has a gift with creating potions, you can tell that by how her mind works, it truly amazing. She is indeed one special girl. 

The Potion Diaries turned out to be such a laugh and I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed it. It has everything, mythology, magic, potions, chemistry - both in the scientific and physical sense of the word, action and adventure. It's also hilarious and a totally lovable book/series. What I loved was Amy's infectious writing and simply and flawless storytelling. I loved being pulled into this world of the Talented and Ordinaries (Alchemists), magic and potions. As well as Mermaids, Abominable Snowmen, Unicorns and even some vampire bats. The only way I could describe this series is it has a sparkle of The Princess Diaries, a dash of Hunger Games and to conclude a sprinkle of Harry Potter. That is one powerful and mesmerising potion and The Potion Diaries has it.

Rating - 🌟🌟🌟🌟