Thursday, September 3, 2015

Review: Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence

Release Date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Voyager
Source: Library
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.
From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.
Mark Lawrence's debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, and sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.

I'm purposely using cat gifs to try and soften this review up a bit. I don't think it will help, but I just couldn't bring myself to search for anything bloody by the time I finished this book.

See that little boy on the cover, in all of his 14 year old glory?
By the fifth page I hated his guts. He repulsed me. Repulsed! And I'm not talking about just disliking his personality. Oh, no! Full-on skeeved out.
The kid is an unrepentant murderer and rapist!

So why 4 stars, huh?
Weeeeell, he's just insane enough to be interesting. And to be quite honest, I kept hoping little Jorg would somehow redeem himself. In some way. Just a little bit!
But the little bastard just kept on slicing throats, throwing people off cliffs, and shooting arrows through the hearts of anyone he really cares about.
To be fair, Jorg has Batman syndrome. He watched the slaughter of his mother and little brother when he was only 10 years old.
He has some unresolved issues...

Except instead of taking the Bruce Wayne approach to things (I will SAVE Gotham!), he's gone all dark and demonic on the inside. Hate will do that to you. It's ok to get angry, you just have to channel it the right way. Hate? Not sot much. That shit will just eat you up.
And then who's gonna want to adopt you from the shelter?

So, Jorg started out an angry 10 year old, and when he finds out the King (who just happens to be his father) won't attack the man responsible for his mother & brother's death, he loses it. He hates the king who attacked his family, and he hates his father for letting it slide. In a rather spectacular show of lunacy, he runs away from home and takes up with a group of killers, eventually becoming their leader.
Hate, amirite?
What comes after hate?
EVIL, that's what! Pure evil! The kind of evil who thinks it's funny to taunt the farmer you just gutted by telling him you just found his daughters. Mmmmm. Yummy!
It's a slippery slope, people! If you let yourself go down that road, you'll find yourself sucked in deeper and deeper..with no way out.

And that scene, with the dying farmer, is where we start the journey with Jorg. He's a few days shy of 14, and already the leader of his motley band of Brothers. You would think it would be impossible for a kid to have somehow taken the leadership role, especially among a group of hardened murderers.
In my mind, this is how his takeover would have gone:

But Jorg is a fearless, scary little shit. And he's not the type to back down. Ever. To anyone.
I kinda had to respect that about him, you know?
At any rate, the kid is ruthless enough to scare these guys into submission.

Besides, the vast majority of his crew were not the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree. They were good at raping & pillaging, but that was as far as their mental capacities took them. In other words, they may have been scum, but they weren't very hard to manipulate.

However, along the road, he runs into his father's priest. In a cage. No, seriously. Jorg (naturally) wants to kill him, but decides to use him to herald his return back to his kingdom.
But not before he stares down an army of the undead, and sends them running for the hills.
Yeah, I know! I told you this little fucker was scary!

Alright, once he makes his grand entrance back at the castle, that's when this show really gets going. Jorg finally gets to face-off with his father!
Except, it's not as cool as Jorg imagined it in his head. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite of cool.

Turns out, his father has remarried, and the new wife is preggers with Jorg 2.0.  Unfortunately, dear old Dad doesn't exactly want his asshole, runaway son taking the throne away from his new spawn. Naturally, Jorg's first thought is how he's going to kill the pregnant bitch.
Because he's sweet like that...

But before he can even begin to starting plotting ways to push his stepmother down a flight of stairs, he runs into her sister...his new aunt.
Aunt Hot Babe!
And now he's conflicted. I mean, he likes her so much he doesn't even want to rape her!
WTF, Jorg?! Are you losing your edge over a girl?!

Ehhh. Not really. He debates whether or not to kill her, just so he doesn't have to worry about getting too attached. Luckily for her, it doesn't matter for long. Because Papa King is sending him on a suicide mission to take out one of the enemy kingdoms. If he returns victorious, it will prove his loyalty and restore him as the heir.
Hahahahahahaha! Yeah, Jorg isn't falling for it, either.

But  there's not much he can do but play along. His father has a powerful magician with some scary powers. This dude can get inside your head, read your thoughts, and control your body.
And Jorg, surprisingly, has managed to get on his bad side.

Although, to be fair, this guy has managed to get on Jorg's bad side, as well.
For the record, my money was always on the psychotic tween...

Ok, the rest of the story is full of exciting adventure! Mutants, necromancers, and radioactive waste are waiting for our intrepid band of don't even remotely resemble heroes. But the good thing is, you really don't care when any of them bites it. Well, except for that one guy...

There are plenty of Big Secrets that come to light by the time this story was over. But towards the end, there was one thing the king did that I really didn't see coming!

And then there was that other thing that made me think Jorg might be redeemable. Ish.
See, there is a bit of a hole in the kid's memory. Not much, mind you. Just a teeny tiny chunk.
But it turns out to be quite a doozy!

Alright, so is Jorg the kind of character that I think most people will like? No.
He's just about as rotten and unsympathetic as they come.
However, by the end of this book he had learned one very important lesson that I think will resonate with everyone.
Sexytimes with a willing hooker is much more pleasant than going the old forcible rape route.
Awwww. He's really growing as a person, don't you think?

My point is, this is DEFINITELY not a book for everyone. I liked it, but that was only because I knew what I was getting into beforehand. If I could find a Trigger Warning cat gif, I would put it up in a heartbeat! However, because I can't, I'm just going to close the door, and let you decide for yourself whether or not you want to read this one...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Guest Post & #Giveaway - The Wanderers by Kate Ormand!

The Wanderers by Kate Ormand
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: September 1st 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal


A Unique Twist on Shape-Shifters with Fast-Paced Action, Thrilling Adventure, Mystery, and a Bit of Romance

Flo lives an eccentric life—she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she’s not ready. While practicing jumping a flaming hurdle in a clearing beside the circus, she spots a dark figure in the trees and fears he saw her shift. The news sends the circus into a panic.

In Flo’s world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization—the EOS, referred to as “hunters.” Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing—testing they don’t often survive—and deem others useless, a danger to society, and eliminate them. To avoid discovery, shifters travel in packs, constantly moving and keeping themselves hidden. Up until now, the circus was the perfect disguise.

Believing she has brought attention to the group, Flo feels dread and anxiety, causing her to make a mistake during her performance in front of the audience—a mistake that triggers a violent attack from the hunters.

Flo manages to flee the torched circus grounds with Jett, the bear shifter who loves her; the annoying elephant triplets; and a bratty tiger named Pru. Together they begin a new journey, alone in a world they don’t understand and don’t know how to navigate. On the run, they unravel secrets and lies that surround the circus and their lives—secrets and lies that all point to the unthinkable: Have they been betrayed by the people they trusted most?

THE WANDERERS is set in our world but the places within are fictional, though some are based on places I’ve been to, or at least details are. I like to pull from various locations rather than specify real settings.

When I first started writing I dived right into the circus itself, and didn’t really build up much around it to begin with. This was mostly down to excitement, great interest in the circus, and eagerness to create the characters’ home.

When it came to thinking more about what’s going on outside the circus the real world made me WORK. I asked myself endless questions about the human world and their view on the circus, their reaction to things that happen, how the circus runs, how shifters feel about humans, how they fit into our world. This is crucial for a realistic setting, especially when creating a world within our own, and fortunately I had a whole group of people who also asked me these questions to better strengthen the story. Examples: my agent suggested news reporters and my dad suggested protestors.

Now, when starting a new project, these questions tend to come first before I dive in. So my new method is to have fun with building the setting, but think hard and often about how things fit from the start (or I’ll regret it later when I’m working back through it all!).

THE WANDERERS was a dream to write. Like every project, it had its ups and downs, hard moments and quick successes, but it’s a book I truly love and hope readers will enjoy being in this world as much as I do.

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Follow the The Wanderers by Kate Ormand Blog Tour and don't miss anything! 
Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

KATE ORMAND is a YA writer represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She recently graduated from university with a first class BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate discovered her love of reading YA books, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. Kate is also a member of an online group of published writers and illustrators called Author Allsorts. And she writes children’s picture books under the name Kate Louise. 

You can see more about Kate and her writing by visiting her website ( or on Twitter (@kateormand).


Monday, August 31, 2015

[Coffee Shop Talks] Share a Teaser from Your Current Read!

Katherine Tegen Books (October 6, 2015)

What a shock you've had. Taken from that world into this. You used to move about in light and lavender, with the laughter pouring from you, and now it's all blood and darkness, with your throat closed so tight your own breath is choking you.