3.5 stars, a solid, enjoyable fantasy/dystopian read. I really liked the concept of the book. I empathised with Violet almost immediately and liked a...more3.5 stars, a solid, enjoyable fantasy/dystopian read. I really liked the concept of the book. I empathised with Violet almost immediately and liked a lot of her character traits. The story was engaging and I think the Duchess was especially well done - cruel, but sometimes sympathetic and an engaging backstory. I like how you never really knew who the villain was as all the characters in the Jewel were well-versed in deception and politics.
About the romance that most people disliked, I honestly didn't mind it so much. Violet was young and basically spent her whole life surrounded only by women. It was love at first sight, which is completely understandable and the rash decisions she made on behalf of Ash was justified as a personal revolt against the confines that she's being placed in. What I didn't like was the fact that the romance slowed the story down somewhat. I was excited by the ending and I am, against all logic, actually hoping for a love triangle to appear in the next book.
I originally read this book when it debuted last year and loved it. Shadow and Bone had everything I...more4.5 stars, originally published at Winged Reviews
I originally read this book when it debuted last year and loved it. Shadow and Bone had everything I wanted in a fantasy—a uniquely imagined world, fantastic characters, and great writing. After having the pleasure of re-reading the book recently (thanks to the lovely team at Indigo’s 2-in-1 mega ARC), I need to caps, bold and add an exclamation mark to my original assessment: I LOVED IT! I know it’s hard to imagine, but it was even better the second time around.
Shadow and Bone is the story of Alina Starkov, an orphan girl who finds out she’s so much more. She is Grisha, a master of the Small Science and a very special one at that—someone gifted with the unique ability to stop the Shadow Fold, a dark wasteland that blocks the country’s only access to the True Sea.
I found the world of Ravka genuinely fascinating. It’s been said countless times but it is extremely rare to find a fantasy book set in a place that isn’t reminiscent of medieval England. This book brought tsar-punk into our lexicon, which is a magical mix of military fur, snow-covered forests, mysterious regal animals and smouldering men in black. Plus I really want one of those Grisha kefta robes to lounge around in.
Also, I can’t remember the last time I read a book with such a charming cast of characters. Alina’s self-doubt combined with her low threshold for taking crap from others makes a really entertaining combination. I instantly rooted for her and her self-deprecating humour. The book also brought us The Darkling, the perfect anti-villain who oozed charisma and power. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t seduced by his dark charm. I also held a soft spot for Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend, whose friendliness and easy-going way made him instantly likable. And even with them all, my favourite character was gorgeous, confident Genya. I wanted to be her AND be her best friend. She’s like a silk dress boned with a corset of steel—beautiful and fierce. I really loved her friendship with Alina and her unique position in the palace.
The writing is wonderfully rich. Bardugo has a knack for immersing you completely in her world within seconds and keeping you glued to the page with her compelling story. The dialogue was simply delightful—from the sarcastic snark, to the declarations of love, to the world-changing proclamations—all infused with that twinkle of humour and passion that Bardugo has in spades. The book is so damn quotable that it is impossible for me to pick my favourite.
If you haven’t read Shadow and Bone yet, I hope this review has given you enough reasons to do so. If you still aren’t convinced, let me take you out for some kvas and let’s talk.(less)
I'm not really sure what to say about this book. I picked it up because the synopsis grabbed me. College, games, friends, someone mysteriously dies, i...moreI'm not really sure what to say about this book. I picked it up because the synopsis grabbed me. College, games, friends, someone mysteriously dies, it all sounded really interesting.
I liked the narration of the book as well. It was slightly confusing at first as it kept switching from 1st person present, to 3rd person past, to even an odd 2nd person (I may have to brush up on my grammar but I think this is right) sometimes, but it was clever and served the story and the reveals well.
What I didn't like was the tone of the book. To be honest, I had this feeling when I read one of Sebastian Faulks' books, and it was that the author's pretentious voice shone with every overwrought word. That I didn't enjoy and I think the book suffered for it to be honest.
There was also the fact that I didn't feel drawn to any of the characters at all, except for Jolyon. Every one of them were caricatures with one track minds and very little character development.
Lastly, the Game itself. I thought more of the book would be focused on it, and I wanted so much more explained about Game Soc and everything else. It explains things in riddles and in drips and drabs, but again I think it's the pretentious author's voice that's marring things here. There is a strong case of style over substance.(less)
Anna and the French Kiss is a breath of fresh air. Amidst all of the supernatural, fantasy and mythology based young adult books that seem to be domin...moreAnna and the French Kiss is a breath of fresh air. Amidst all of the supernatural, fantasy and mythology based young adult books that seem to be dominating the market, this book is a fun read simply about the wonders of being a teenager in a foreign city.
Anna has been sent to a boarding school in Paris by her mainly absent father. Initially upset at leaving her best friend, her younger brother and a potential boyfriend, Anna eventually finds herself in a new circle of friends which includes the charming Etienne St. Clair. In the backdrop of this magnificent city, the budding film critic finds herself awed, confused and eventually in love.
The book flowed very naturally and Anna is a delightful point of view character. Perkins imbues her with charm and wit, while keeping her grounded and relatable. Her experiences and reactions come off wholly genuine. Perkins manages to string together a series of almost ordinary events in Anna's life, but keeps everything original and interesting. I empathised and rooted for Anna through every small triumph (movie theatres showing classic films, yes please) and heartache (who here hasn't been hurt by a best friend and that guy).
I remember when I was younger, I went abroad to California for a summer course. It was the first time I travelled by myself and I went into the experience with a mixture of dread and excitement. And then I met a boy and those three weeks were definitely my best teenage memories. St. Clair is that boy. He's every high school crush and summer love you've had or never managed to shake. I would've definitely fallen for his cool English accent and his easy way, but liked that he was real enough so I was just as irritated as Anna by his annoying indecisiveness and somewhat weak will. The chemistry between them was palpable and that teenage girl inside me tingled every time they were together, seriously.
The beauty of Anna and the French Kiss is that it brought back all the good parts of being a teenager. For anyone who has ever had a first love or a new experience, this book is one for you. I'll definitely come back to it whenever I need to revisit those three weeks in the summer. (less)
One day, I descended into the tube station and heard a beautiful, clear whistling. It came from a busker—a tall...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews
One day, I descended into the tube station and heard a beautiful, clear whistling. It came from a busker—a tall blind man, who held his head high, and stood tall even with his walking stick. The sound was a sombre melancholy, but also full of hope. The emotion I felt when I heard it has stayed with me since, and describes exactly how I felt when reading this book. Through all its beautiful writing, Days of Blood and Starlight broke my heart into a million pieces, put it all together, and then broke it again. And I loved it.
Where is Karou? After learning that Akiva was responsible for the genocide of the chimaera and the deaths of her family, Karou made her way through the tear into Eretz. Her friend Zuzanna send email after email of worry, and Akiva searches every place he knows to no avail. As the first book, it’s best to go into it without knowing too much, but you can look forward to pee balloons, giant sandcastles, museum thievery, an actual blood bath and some grotesque smiles.
The tone is very different to the first book. While Daughter of Smoke and Bone was about magic, wonder and love, this book was about duty, graft, hatred and heartache. Still, everything I loved about the first book was still there, especially the way Taylor balances the epic story with beautiful little character-driven glimpses.
Wonderfully, it features a lot of Karou’s feisty friend Zuzanna and her lovable boyfriend Mik (possibly the only functional relationship in the whole book) and Akiva’s siblings Hazael and Liraz. Taylor also conjures up a whole host of other cool new characters (as a side note to the publishers, I would love to see Karou’s notebook brought to life). A definitely standout for me was the wonderful Ziri, someone I’m sure you will fall in love with, because I certainly have.
There were so many twists to this story I did not see coming, distracted as I was by the beauty of the lyrical prose. I have never read a book which constantly made my heart ache with each tough decision and impossible circumstance the characters faced. Taylor’s writing is truly evocative, and I was amazed by where she took the story in the end. It will be a tough year, waiting for Book 3.
This isn’t a book you can read as a standalone, so if you haven’t yet started Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I urge you to do so. For all those that are already fans of the first book, I can assure you this sequel won’t let you down. (less)
Once upon a time a blogger mysteriously received a book in the post. It ended really well.
That is a blanket thank you to the person at Hodder & Stroughton who sent me a copy of this book. I had bought it last autumn to read but in between moving houses it got stuck in a box, so this mysterious second copy gave me the motivation to start reading what I heard was the best YA book of last year. They weren’t wrong.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is rare feat—a mind-blowingly epic story at the top of the scale of grandness, which also manages to imbue each little moment with as much beauty and detail. Karou is a seemingly normal, blue-haired art student in Prague (and what a gorgeous city the author makes it out to be). She keeps a sketchbook full of drawings of mystical half-human, half-animal beings, who her classmates believe are figments of her imagination. Little do they know the creatures are real, and Karou’s guardians and family.
Raised by Brimstone, the wishmonger, and a group of lovable chimaeras (most notably Issa) Karou gets sent on errands around the world to purchase teeth in exchange for wishes. She travels through Brimstone’s little workshop through doors from around the world, which then open up again anywhere she wants to go. It’s these fantastical touches that make this book so special. From the mystery surrounding what teeth is used for, to wish currency (from throwaway scuppies to once in a lifetime, pull your own teeth out bruxis), to Karou receiving languages as gifts. Everything is so well-realised and wonderfully detailed that it feels so normal yet extraordinary at the same time. The way Karou’s worlds intertwine is simply flawless.
I previously mentioned the scale of this book and what starts off as a lovely insight into Karou’s double life becomes an epic otherworldly adventure on the arrival of Akiva and the mysterious black hand-prints that appear on all of the doorways into Brimstone’s workshop. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone that hasn’t yet had the pleasure of reading it but you can look forward to a human marionette, a city domed by bars, warrior angels, diamond and teeth necklaces and a masked celebration.
The story was brought to life by Taylor’s simple but evocative writing, like a haunting fairy tale that one day you realised was reality. My heart was tugged in a million different directions because despite all the fantasy, at the core of the story were love and war and all the emotions they evoke. I urge you, if you haven’t read this wonderful book, please do. (less)
Super cute contemporary. I loved the concept of it and what can I say? I loved Aly and Brandon and all their friends. Rachel Harris knows how to make...moreSuper cute contemporary. I loved the concept of it and what can I say? I loved Aly and Brandon and all their friends. Rachel Harris knows how to make me swoon!(less)
Siege and Storm is a fantastic sequel to last year’s debut Shadow and Bone. In fact, it was even better. It had...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews.
Siege and Storm is a fantastic sequel to last year’s debut Shadow and Bone. In fact, it was even better. It had everything I loved about the first book—the world-building, the incredible characters, the immersive writing—and more. My heart! This book is truly epic, filled with oodles of imagination and entertainment.
At the end of Shadow and Bone, Alina and Mal had barely escaped the Shadow Fold and ran away across the True Sea to live a simpler, peaceful life. Naturally this didn’t last as they are soon tracked down by The Darkling and forced to board a whaler back to Ravka. Story-wise, it was fast-paced and gripping—I couldn’t put it down. I loved the mythology of Morozova’s amplifiers and the history of Grisha science. This book definitely has something for everyone: fantasy, romance, humour, action and mythology, just to name a few.
Siege and Storm also has book boyfriend for everyone as Leigh Bardugo has seemingly done the impossible and given us not one, not two, but three amazing men to swoon about. This whole review was going to be a love letter to Sturmhond, but I thought I would share the love and ramble on about this fantastic cast of characters first.
Alina has made her transition from scared orphan to powerful Saint, and I liked it. She showed more backbone, more sarcasm, and a little more darkness as she finally embraced her true potential. It was tough for her to be everything to everyone at once, but she dealt with it while keeping her integrity and doing what she felt was best for Ravka. I liked seeing other characters like Genya, Zoya and David playing bigger roles in the book as well, although without giving too many spoilers away, their stories broke my heart. I also really enjoyed the new characters, twins Tolya and Tamar who were kick ass Grisha fighters and become part of Alina’s elite guard.
The Darkling really amped up his evil, his presence lingering throughout the book. I was both fascinated and scared by him in this, especially when he developed his frightening new ability and during his ‘moments’ with Alina. But Mal. Can I just say that I loved him so much more? He had the best quotes and that’s saying something from a book with incredible dialogue. He really came alive in this book. His love for Alina was so clear in everything he did, and I wanted to give him a big hug every time a new situation tore them apart. I’m now firmly on Team Mal.
But what about Sturmhond, you say? If I suddenly disappear while writing this review, it’s because the mere mention of him has caused me to melt into a puddle of goo. I’m on Team Mal for Alina; I want Sturmhond for me. The infamous Storm Hound, captain of the seas and free-spirited privateer was so much more (and what a brilliant twist this was). He’s charming with that well-placed arrogance and swagger that I instantly loved. He’s got the best attributes of Puck from The Iron Fey, Prince Arthur from Merlin, Peeta from The Hunger Games all rolled into one, which is just freaking irresistible. Sturmhond is the best thing about Siege and Storm, hands down. Really, because of him, the book overall was funnier, sweeter and more engaging. Thank you Leigh, for bringing him into my life.
Throughout the book, I couldn’t predict where the story would go next, and I was not disappointed by the absolute killer of an ending! Bardugo once again proves she’s a master storyteller. It’s going to be a tough wait for Ruin and Rising.(less)
When time travel is done right, it is phenomenal and Cristin Terrill got it absolutely spot on with her sci-fi,...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews.
When time travel is done right, it is phenomenal and Cristin Terrill got it absolutely spot on with her sci-fi, time bending debut! All Our Yesterdays had me hooked from the start and took me on a heart-pounding, fast-paced dystopian adventure. I haven’t cared for characters’ survival this much since The Hunger Games—Em and Finn completely won me over and the ending absolutely blew my mind!
Em finds herself locked in a cell alone and next door to Finn, both of them being tortured for information. After finding a mysterious note hidden in her cell’s drain, Em decides there’s no other option but to break out, go back in time and do the unthinkable. The story took me on a rollercoaster of emotions! I want to heap more praise about the wonderful plot, but I think its best read not really knowing what’s going on and experiencing the wonder when it all falls into place.
The quality of the writing was superb, even more so if you consider that this is Terrill’s debut. Not only was it non-stop excitement (I had real trouble putting the book down once I got started), but the characters were all so incredibly likable. She managed to create someone real in Em, who I came to know and love within a very short space of time. I loved her tenacity, strength, and her ability to grow up and make near impossible decisions so quickly. I also loved sweet, kind Finn, who is just as brave, funny and most importantly, a good friend as well as a boyfriend. I loved seeing how their relationship grew ‘backwards’—knowing how they ended up and seeing their relationship dynamic change and grow. And their banter was glorious.
There were so many incredibly cool scenes in this book as a result of the way the plot was set up and it’s taking all my willpower not to hit you with CAPSLOCK giddiness, but in addition to that, it also had all the FEELS (ok, I hit you with one caps). I even cared about the supposed villain, but mostly I cared about Em and Finn throughout, future to past, even when they were essentially different people. This is what made it a winning combination for me. Also, Terrill really couldn’t have wrapped the story up any better. I was satisfied and a little hopeful, which is just how I love to be after reading a great book.
I highly recommend this book to anyone! You won’t be disappointed.
(Just wanted to say a quick thank you to Bloomsbury for my review being quoted in the UK paperback edition of the book! I'm extremely excited and honoured.)(less)
This book was a phenomenal way to start off my reading year. Vicious, the debut adult novel from V.E. Schwab, l...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews.
This book was a phenomenal way to start off my reading year. Vicious, the debut adult novel from V.E. Schwab, lived up to all my expectations and more. It was a masterclass in pace, plotting and best of all, characters.
The story was wonderful—darkly funny, grim at times and with just the right amount of villainy. It starts off with a night at a graveyard and the book shifts back and forth between roommates Victor Vale and Eli Ever’s time at college and present day. As students fueled by alcohol, testosterone and scientific curiosity, Victor and Eli test and discover the catalyst for making someone ExtraOrdinary—a person with a gift. And yes, they have tested on themselves.
I loved the variety of the switching narrative and points in time. It highlights the book’s concept, that nothing is black and white—heroes and villains are labels that just depend on your point of view. The boys were wonderful examples of this. Victor has the misfortune of being labelled a criminal, and while his motives may be driven by revenge and selfishness, his goal is for the greater good. Eli is seen a public hero, a deliverer of justice and God’s will, but truly his acts and purpose are pure criminal.
In fact, all of the Schwab’s characters are absolutely brilliant. It’s perhaps the most well-crafted character-driven story I’ve had the pleasure of reading. No one was superfluous. I loved the care the author took in ensuring we would get to see the story through each point of view to understand motives, personalities, and history. Each character was interesting and important to the plot. Standouts for me were sisters Sydney and Serena, who got caught up in Victor and Eli’s respective quests, but made themselves integral to their success (and frankly, stole the show).
A friend I lent the book to almost immediately after I finished it said it best—she was in a dilemma about whether to read as quickly as she could to find out more, or to slow down and savour it. I felt the exact same way. Schwab’s writing has a way of immersing you completely in the story and hooking you in so you can’t bear to pull away from the book, but during the whole time I was reading I was checking to see how much of the book was left and found myself disappointed when I got closer to the end as I wanted to spend more time with this book.
The ending was phenomenally good and wrapped everything up perfectly. As glad as I am to read a standalone book however, I think what Schwab has created has so much potential that I would love to see more stories set in this ExtraOrdinary world. I am extremely satisfied with Eli and Victor’s story, but I’m sure Schwab would have no trouble dreaming up more wonderful, interesting characters for us to read about. (less)
So good, I almost couldn't bear its brilliance in the end. It was a slow starter and it really takes you a while to get involved, but when you are, yo...moreSo good, I almost couldn't bear its brilliance in the end. It was a slow starter and it really takes you a while to get involved, but when you are, you never want to leave the streets of Camorr. Revenge, heists, LAYERS of deception and backstory goodness. Can I be a Gentleman Bastard please? Definitely going to read the rest of this amazing series. Full review to come. Maybe. If I can compose myself enough to come up with something half decent worthy of this book. (less)
3.5 stars. The Art of Falling portrays teens in a wonderfully realistic way. With characters to love and kisses to make you swoon, it's like watching...more3.5 stars. The Art of Falling portrays teens in a wonderfully realistic way. With characters to love and kisses to make you swoon, it's like watching your favourite teen movie. Contemporary lovers will adore this debut.(less)
Really enjoyable! Loved all the characters and the situations that Harriet found herself in, especially hiding underneath the tables! Loved the dad, W...moreReally enjoyable! Loved all the characters and the situations that Harriet found herself in, especially hiding underneath the tables! Loved the dad, Wilbur, Yuka and the yummy lion boy! Full review to come.(less)
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed the adventure and all the peripheral characters, and I feel like the series is going to get better with each book. I felt...more3.5 stars. I really enjoyed the adventure and all the peripheral characters, and I feel like the series is going to get better with each book. I felt like some plot points were a bit thin, and the problem resolved a little too easily, but I did like the Alice in Wonderland-esque quality to Meghan's journey. And I really, really like Puck. Meghan, I'm not so keen on. She seems very much like your typical YA heroine, and I'm expecting more of her, especially considering how much they are building her up to be 'special'. Ash was just fine, I think he will get some much needed fleshing out in the books to come. I'm optimistic because everyone rates this series so highly, so I will get the sequel soon. Full review to come. (less)
**spoiler alert** Just finished it this evening and I have to say, that Rick Riordan is just getting better at what he already does best: mixing the r...more**spoiler alert** Just finished it this evening and I have to say, that Rick Riordan is just getting better at what he already does best: mixing the real world and mythology by taking you through an incredibly fun, action-packed romp.
I really enjoyed how the whole series is setting itself up, especially the introduction of the Roman aspects of the Gods and the 'other' demigod camp (that has a mind-wiped Percy, what a brilliant twist)! I loved reading about the old beloved characters as well (I didn't think I would like Annabeth so much, but I actually dug her quietly determined worry and the fact that she now calls Percy her boyfriend). Thalia as Jason's sister? My mind boggles at the brilliant and wholly appropriate retconning.
The action was fun as well. I enjoyed meeting a whole load of new minor gods. I liked how Riordan manages to 'namedrop' old references, from villains escaping Tartarus (Midea, Midas) to the battle of Troy and Helen's mirror-knife. The fight scenes were gripping, unbelievable, yet realistic at the same time. And I also enjoyed how Riordan kept you guessing before each big Greek/Roman reveal, it was like a little triumph when you guessed it early and a big 'oh yeah' moment when you finally got told who it was. Ah Gaea. You'll be a formidable enemy. It's making me want to research the creation of the Giants, NOW.
My only gripe is that I don't find myself particularly attached to the three new main characters. I find Leo and Jason's voice quite hard to distinguish between one another, and while I'm sympathetic towards Piper, I think Annabeth was a much better version of what she's trying to be (and Thalia and Rachel for that matter). I think two out of the three of them having famous movie star parents also bugged me for some reason. I guess it is difficult to write steadily in shifting third person perspective, but Riordan's style is so distinctive that I guess it's his voice taking control of the whole book, not so much the characters. I didn't necessarily mind this and hopefully each character's narrative will get more distinctive as the series progresses.
All in all, I really enjoyed it. Bring on The Son of Neptune!(less)
3.5 stars, originally published at Winged Reviews. It would've been 5 if I was between the ages of 9-12!
Take a dash of colorful characters, a pinch of...more3.5 stars, originally published at Winged Reviews. It would've been 5 if I was between the ages of 9-12!
Take a dash of colorful characters, a pinch of danger, and generous scoops of adventure and you have a terrific culinary mystery for young readers. This was the tagline on NetGalley that intrigued me and the book definitely lived up to it. The Case of the Missing Deed is reminiscent of the great children’s detective stories I used to read as a kid. One part Famous Five, one part Encyclopedia Brown, one part Nancy Drew and/or Hardy Boys (depending on your gender) and sprinkle in a whole lot of heart.
Aimed at pre-teens, the writing is simple but effective and I found myself unable to put the galley away. The story follows the adventure of five cousins on their annual vacation at Grandma’s cottage on Otter Island, after Grandpa passed away. The island is rich in tantalum, a metal used widely in modern electronic equipment, which pretty much makes it a goldmine. A mining company is trying to buy up the island and is forcing Grandma to produce the deed that proves the property is hers or her lovely cottage will be seized.
Sadly, Grandma has a bad memory and can’t remember where Grandpa told her he kept the deed, however Grandpa was famous for being a mystery and puzzle lover. When the children start going through the family recipes in order to cook something to cheer her up, they discover little hidden clues written by Grandpa that they believe will lead them to the deed.
It was fun to watch the cousins sampling recipes, deciphering clues and finding little objects tagged with a number that their Grandpa left for them. The book also captures the essence of the different children well. Genevieve has fallen for her first boy and is letting it cloud her judgment. Sebastian is a genius who takes the lead on the ‘mystery’, but it’s making him extremely paranoid and suspects everyone is in cahoots with the mining company. Claire is younger and tries to see the best in people. Alex is the practical problem solver, and tends to approach things the most rationally. Olivia is an artist who paints beautifully and is the best in the kitchen. The mix of all the cousins working together is really great, and I wished the book was aimed at an older audience because I would've loved more character development.
The story paints all non-family members ambiguously, which lets you delightfully unfold the mystery with the children. Sebastian is especially suspicious of his mother’s new boyfriend, which adds a very real touch to the story. The people who represent the mining company are suitably threatening, and in the end the story becomes more than finding the deed, it becomes about saving the island.
In addition having simple, easy and delicious sounding recipes, book also explains basic ciphers and codes. There are so many things in the book for the reader to take away and to learn from. The ending is suitably happy (if not a little sudden), but all the little story lines were tied up neatly. I highly recommend this mystery for young readers and know that they would enjoy the Teaspoon Detectives and their adventures.(less)
Defiance is an incredible book, with each page like a move in an intricate, high-stakes chess game between the c...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews
Defiance is an incredible book, with each page like a move in an intricate, high-stakes chess game between the characters. It was beautifully written and full of unexpected twists. Best of all, it has Logan, who in the author CJ Redwine’s own words is like the love-child of Sherlock Holmes and MacGuyver.
The book is set in a dystopian city-state society, where citizens live in walled cities in fear of a Leviathan-like ground monster called The Chosen One. Baalboden, the city where the story starts, is ruled by the sinister, power-hungry Commander Chase who tells Rachel that her father, a courier, hasn’t returned on time and has been declared dead. He hands over her Protectorship to her father’s young apprentice, Logan.
The story was well-plotted, working both character-driven scenes and high action. Even when I thought the story was going the way I expected, Redwine managed to catch me out at every turn. It kept me on my toes the entire time. The words were also beautifully crafted and showed a great range from humorous awkwardness, real heart-wrenching emotion and everything in between.
The book uses an altering point of view narration between Rachel and Logan, and subsequently both main characters were incredibly well-developed. Their motives, priorities and feelings matured with each chapter. Rachel, with each passing loss grew from being stubborn, determined, and impulsive to more thoughtful, grounded, and detached and I came to admire how she coped with the cruel hand fate dealt her. Logan, always logical and well-planned, started to act on his emotions a little more. It was a nice contrast as they took on some of the other’s personality traits–they are an extremely well-matched pair.
The narration style also allowed us to get into the hero’s brain, and boy was it a good one. I wanted to take a blanket and snuggle up inside the head of our resident inventor. Logan grew up as an outcast orphan, his mother sentenced to death for breaking the law at the hands of the Commander. He taught himself how to wield a sword and to invent tech in order to create a better life for himself and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a smart, skilled fighter. Logan also has a strong sense of justice, loyalty and fairness, and when mixed with a certain awkwardness makes him extremely charming. I especially love his logical mind, always thinking through best and worst case scenarios, always having a plan of action, always succeeding in finding a way out of each passingly worse situation. This is definitely someone I would want as my Protector—or, you know, to Claim me.
The Commander is an excellent villain, the perfect mix of ruthless and controlling. He was a genuine threat to Rachel and Logan throughout the book and I always felt nervous during each of their encounters. Sweet Oliver was a great father figure to them both, someone they loved and respected and he was comforting. There are also glimpses of other minor characters that I have a feeling will grow into their own in the second book and I can’t wait.
I highly recommend this book if you’re a fan of anything dystopian, fantasy or if you’re just in need of a new book boyfriend. Best Case Scenario: You love the book. Worst Case Scenario: You dislike the book, but love Logan anyway. It’s a win-win. Trust me, Logan won’t let you down. “If you can’t believe that right now, believe in me.”(less)
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was a breath of fresh air! I loved the sound of the book from the blurb and I’...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews.
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was a breath of fresh air! I loved the sound of the book from the blurb and I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint one bit! This debut is full of charm and is a light funny read while staying true to beautiful sixteenth century Rennaissance Florence.
Cat Crawford is the daughter of a famous Hollywood director and actress. Since her mother abandoned her and her dad, she likes her life out of the spotlight. So when her future stepmother Jenna steps in and wants to plan an extravagant Sweet Sixteen party to further her own career, Cat vehemently refuses and it takes a trip to Florence, Italy for art-loving Cat to reluctantly be persuaded by her dad. Little did she know her trip would whisk her back to the sixteenth century in order to learn some important lessons about herself!
It was great fun reading about Cat trying to fit into sixteenth century culture. When she arrives, she assumes the role of Patience D’Angeli, a relative from England, and stays with her aunt, uncle and cousins Cipriano and Alessandra. Her ‘Englishness’ hides a whole mess of historical faux pas, but the reaction of the locals is priceless. I love how Rachel Harris writes Cat with such spunk that you can’t help root for her, even through that cringe-worthy singing!
One of the best parts of the book is Cat’s relationships with her new era family. Her aunt and uncle welcome her into the family with open arms, and she learns to love them even though her aunt looks remarkably like her estranged mother. She also gets along famously with her cousins Cipriano and Alessandra and the three of them form a strong friendship. It’s lovely to see her and Less (as she nicknamed her) eventually become best friends and I got a warm, fuzzy feeling when they both opened up to each other. I loved Alessandra and her genuine affection and general niceness made her a stand out character for me.
And of course there’s Lorenzo, Cip and Less’ friend who is obviously gorgeous, but is also caring, strong-willed and artistic. He also has that air of confidence and debonair attitude that a modern boy wouldn’t have and Rachel writes him pitch perfectly. Despite her reluctance to trust anyone, Cat eventually opens herself up to his affection and I loved their little dates (especially the waterfall scene) and seeing the relationship grow. She encourages him to follow his dreams as an artist and the little ‘easter egg’ when Cat eventually makes it back to her own time was just one of the many little touches that make me love this book.
If you’re in the mood for something charming, undeniably sweet and incredibly feel-good, then don’t hesitate to pick this book up! I’ll be waiting (im)patiently for the sequel!
Thank you to Entangled Publishing for providing a copy for review.(less)
After the whirlwind of genres that the first book in the series gave us, I was thrilled to learn...more3.5 stars, review originally posted on Winged Reviews
After the whirlwind of genres that the first book in the series gave us, I was thrilled to learn the second book would dip into one of my favourites, Historical Fiction. I wasn't disappointed, as the story took us to Elizabethan England (one of my favourite time periods) and seamlessly incorporated famous historical figures like Christopher Marlowe and Queen Elizabeth I herself. However, as much as I loved being in Diana and Matthew's historic world, the book moved slowly. While I loved some aspects of the cross-genre writing, the best part of the book for me, the plot, suffered as a result.
What I can say about this book is that it's smart. Details are meticulously researched. I enjoyed how out-of-place Diana worked hard at speaking, writing, dressing and behaving in correct 16th Century fashion. I loved the flash forwards that showed how Diana and Matthew's foray into the past left traces on the modern day. Harkness also brings to life into the science of Elizabethan alchemy (a precursor to modern chemistry) and the menace of the witch-hunts going on during that time.
The book isn't just all details and history though. Diana and Matthew's foray into Sept-Tours and meeting Matthew's deceased father Philippe was full of heart and great character development. I felt their struggles and learned to admire their devotion to each other. There was no "will-they-won't-they" here—they were firmly committed to each other. They argued like a normal couple and resolved their differences in a mature way. It was great to see a marriage of equals and them working hard to gain the love and respect of their respective families and friends.
However, I felt this section stalled the plot and impatient me wanted to get to the gist of the book as soon as possible: when we left Diana and Matthew at the end of the last book, they time-weave (time-wove?) back into the past in order to learn more about the mysterious Ashmore 782 and Diana's abilities. As there are so many plot points in the book, it's hard to find the right balance. For the mystery-solver and para-sci-fi geek in me, what I wanted read about the most was origins of witches, vampires, daemons and their powers. In that sense, the romance almost ruined it for me. I did enjoy the funny sections though, especially the trip to Prague, which felt almost like a comedy-sketch! Seriously, what genre can't Harkness write in?
Putting all those gripes aside though, when we get to the reveals, I was thoroughly impressed. Harkness has created a carefully crafted paranormal system, with its own hierarchy and rules. When we finally discover what Diana's powers are, it manages to fit seamlessly into the world but remained surprising at the same time. And it was the same when we discover the truth about Ashmole 782.
Naturally we are left with another nail-biting cliffhanger and a shocking ending. I honestly can't wait for it to all come together at the end, because I do think the last book will be phenomenal.(less)
Thank you to J. Taylor Publishing and the Read to Review programme on Goodreads for a review copy of the book!
For anyone that enjoys a mythology-tinged romance, then this is definitely the book for them. I really liked the concept of the story, but I'm not sure I liked the story itself. I felt there was a lot of potential and the writing was beautiful, but something was missing.
Tripp Fox and Lexi Shephard are the proverbial Fox and Hound (the mythological Teumessian Fox and Laelaps) who have abilities bestowed upon them by Zeus. Tripp is the fox that can't be caught, and Lexi is the dog that always catches her prey. They are each other's diametrically opposite match and due to the nature of their mutually excluding abilities they aren't ever meant to meet. However, by accident (or fate), they do meet and fall in love, and try to break the cycle.
I loved the mythology, but wish it was explored further in the book. Everyone took Lexi and Tripp's abilities as given, with mentions of Zeus every now and then, but the book never went into great detail. I would've loved to know why he granted these abilities and how the gifted are chosen, etc. All it really told you was that there were other people with the abilities and there was one older couple they met who managed to make the relationship work. Perhaps the next books in the series will reveal more.
I liked Tripp and Lexi as characters individually—both were strong-minded, driven, a little reckless and loyal to their friends and family. Where I struggled a bit was their romance. I didn't feel like they had a lot of chemistry, almost as if they convinced each other (or at least, Tripp kept badgering Lexi) to be together. They were constantly telling themselves they loved each other, but throughout the book, I wasn't that convinced.
The supporting cast was great, however. Ian, Tripp's best friend and Emma, Lexi's sister were great, well-rounded characters who offered a lot of advice, support and comic relief. Marge and Fergs, as the older couple who acted like mentors to Tripp and Lexi were wonderful and I really enjoyed them. The house, an old farm house that Lexi had always wanted to buy and Tripp eventually did, also seemed to have a character of its own and was instrumental in their relationship. Sometimes though, I felt like they loved the house more than each other! The plot had a lot of twists and turns, but I felt that most of it was extraneous and I just wanted to hurry on and read about how Lexi and Tripp were going to get around the situation they were in.
What ultimately saved it for me was the ending. I was absolutely enthralled, probably because it was extremely romantic and I have been watching a lot of a UK TV show called 'Don't Tell The Bride'. In the show, the couple get £12,000 to spend on a wedding with one catch—the groom has to plan every detail (including picking the dress). Not to give away too much, but those weddings are almost always a disaster, but the one at the end of Hide and Seek most certainly wasn't and really had me swooning.
The book wrapped up nicely and works well as a stand alone story, so I may or may not be picking up the sequels, but any romance fan should definitely give it a try.(less)
I love death. Not so much dying, but the personification of death. He's one of the best characters that crop up...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews.
I love death. Not so much dying, but the personification of death. He's one of the best characters that crop up in literature, DEATH of the Discworld being a very notable example. So whenever a story has reapers in it, I get overly excited and my expectations probably rise tenfold. Thankfully, Inbetween hasn't let me down.
Inbetween is told from the alternating point of view of Finn and Emma. Finn died as an 18-year old WWII fighter pilot and now works as a reaper, specialising in sending souls to the 'inbetween' where they await a second chance at life. Emma keeps getting into accidents and she's certain she's not crazy. Finn has sworn to protect Emma since he helped her survive a car crash two years ago that killed her father and inadvertently led a vengeful soul to take revenge through her.
This is a sweet love story that spans reincarnations. The plot is interesting and actually takes you to hell and back. The mood of the story shifts seamlessly from light-hearted humour to deep tragedy and I'm not ashamed to say that it made me well up with tears a few times. Tara Fuller's writing is extremely emotive, especially in the way she captures danger and heartache. Despite all of that though, the book stands out most for me because of the wonderful characters.
I sympathised with Emma, misunderstood as she is when she had every reason to be paranoid. She was vulnerable, but she grew stronger in the end, facing her fears and standing up for those she cares about. She was brave in her own way. I also loved best friend Cash, who is cool and dreamy in his own right. I love how he has a bad boy image, but is really a softie and he's arrogant because he can be. They grew up together and genuinely care about each other, which is really sweet. I'm a sucker for great guy-girl best friend relationships.
The rest of the supporting cast is also fantastic. Finn's fellow reapers, Anaya and Easton personify which section they work for (i.e. reaping for Heaven or Hell), but aren’t clichés. Their brother-sister relationship with Finn makes them a great, albeit dysfunctional, little family. Maeve, as the villainous soul after Emma, is pitch perfect—creepy, arrogantly mean and deeply bitter. In fact, every character encountered in this book is really well-developed and distinct.
I’m saving the best for last in Finn. I haven’t swooned about a YA boy in a long time, but Finn deserves it. For me, it's his unyielding love for Emma that makes him swoon-worthy. There is no wavering, or indecisiveness—he’s wholly and completely in love with and committed to her without question. Plus the sacrifices he goes through to keep her safe at his own expense are really touching. It also helps that he's kind, caring, good-looking and loyal. I wish I had my own reaper guardian angel!
The only thing that stopped me giving it full marks is that I wanted Emma to come to love Finn a little bit more in her own time. I understand that she still holds feelings from her reincarnated self, but as a separate person, I wish she got the chance to choose to love him in her own way. They are incredibly sweet together though, and some of their scenes gave me goosebumps—the good kind.
I can’t wait for the sequel, and word around is that it will focus on some of the other characters we’ve come to know and love. Tara, I absolutely can’t wait.
Thank you to Entangled Publishing for providing a copy for review.(less)
I wish my 12-year old self had books like this when I was growing up. Or really, I wish my 12-year old se...more3.5 stars, original review at Winged Reviews.
I wish my 12-year old self had books like this when I was growing up. Or really, I wish my 12-year old self had wanted to read books like this when I was growing up. I read a lot of serialised girl fiction, like Sweet Valley and The Babysitters Club and not quite enough ‘boy books’. I realised now that while I learned a lot about gossip, boys and friendship, I missed some really important lessons, like adventure, or blackmail.
Artemis Fowl Junior is a well-spoken, criminal genius, who happens to be twelve. He tries to restore his family’s riches through the easiest way possible—discover the fairy races’ secrets, kidnap a fairy and blackmail them for gold. It’s too bad he runs up against Captain Holly Short, the only female retcon officer and the entire LEPrecon unit who will not stop until they rescue one of their own!
The story is told from the point of view of both Artemis and Holly (and LEPrecon). Artemis starts out quite stern, but slowly develops a concience and sympathy. He ends up feeling bad for Holly and throughout the book, you can see a little of his dry humour start to come through. Holly is feisty and determined, always having to prove that she’s a good officer, but she’s also smart and empassioned and I found I liked her a lot. Although they are on opposing sides, I was rooting for both, and I liked how the lines were blurred between protagonist and antagonist.
I think the best thing about the book was the great supporting cast of characters. There’s kick-ass Butler, Artemis’…butler, whose family the designation ‘butler’ actually originated from; grumpy Commander Julius Root, Holly’s commanding officer; tech-genius centaur Foaly, in charge of all of fairy’s impressive technology and 007-like gadgets; and my personal favourite, the irrepressable Mulch Diggums—dwarf, kleptomaniac, burp machine.
The story itself and how it unfolds is really fun and there are lots of twists and turns, which keeps it interesting. The author breaks the barrier several times and the writing is witty and humourous. The action is also paced well and it kept me wanting to read more. I would’ve loved this book a whole lot if I was 12 and I recommend it to anyone whose inner child wants to read a good story.
If you put Nancy Drew in a boarding school, set it in the 1930s and sprinkle heavily with Sherlock references, bunbreaks and Cluedo, you’re g...more4.5 stars
If you put Nancy Drew in a boarding school, set it in the 1930s and sprinkle heavily with Sherlock references, bunbreaks and Cluedo, you’re getting close to describing the sheer charm that is Murder Most Unladylike. I absolutely adored Robin Stevens’ debut novel featuring the first case of the Wells & Wong Detective Society. As a warning, you will definitely want to read this book with a cup of tea and baked goods within arm’s reach.
And if you need more to sell you on this book, there is a map (!) of the Deepdean School for Girls and a cast list up front so you can follow along as the girls try to convince everyone their teacher was murdered and also solve the whodunit. Plus, the cover is gorgeously blue with striking graphics and typography and would look great on your shelves. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why I love this book so much but everything about it is simply lovely.
The main girls are wonderfully likable and memorable...
I was initially drawn to this book because I am huge fan of Arthurian legend and the heartbreaking tale of Tris...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews.
I was initially drawn to this book because I am huge fan of Arthurian legend and the heartbreaking tale of Tristan and Isolde. The original story is timeless and has inspired famous tragedies Romeo and Juliet and the Arthur-Lancelot-Guinevere legend. It has been immortalized as an opera by Wagner. It is probably one of literature’s first love triangles. That said, nothing about this book is timeless or classic, and that’s putting it lightly. If I only had one word to describe this book, it would be superficial which applies to Tris and Izzie in so many ways.
The story is narrated by popular Tintangel High student Izzie. She has the perfect boyfriend, captain of the basketball team Mark, and a slightly less attractive best friend Branna. Everything seems to be going smoothly for her and her worst problem is solving Branna’s woes by finding her a boyfriend. Enter new student Tristan, who transfers to the school after the death of his parents. He’s a fast runner and speaks in a slightly archaic style of English (which is about as interesting as he gets). Izzie, superficial, self-centered girl that she is, decides that Tristan and Branna would be perfect for each other and that she going to personally ensure they happen.
Suddenly, we are hit with the appearance of a magic wine bottle, the fact that Izzie’s mom is a witch and that the obvious solution to Branna’s problem is a love potion (or philtre, to be accurate). The fact that the entire book now revolves around magic was introduced so randomly it was jarring. In fact, that is an accurate description of how I felt throughout the book—jarred. Like the story was one long bumper car ride whose only resemblance to the original heartbreaking tale are the names. If you think the idea of a love potion is bad, it only gets worse.
The plot manages to be transparent but shocking at the same time, in a bad way. Take for example Izzie ‘accidentally’ drinking the love potion she prepared for Branna. Couldn’t she have dropped the bottle instead? I realize that a love potion is the catalyst in the original story, but who would purposely drink a potion that would make them fall for someone else, fully aware of its permanent effect, even though they had a boyfriend they loved?
All the relationships and interactions in the story were just as inorganic and forced like the love potion—I felt absolutely no chemistry between any of the couples at any time. All the characters were underdeveloped, like cardboard cutouts made to walk and talk. The only personality trait they had was the ability to infuriate me. I didn’t once feel any sympathy or even empathy towards them. The love rectangle was so forced and I didn’t buy Tristan and Izzie’s feelings at any point in the story. It just happened, like they both just woke up and were suddenly madly in love. It wasn’t even a real love potion! There was no build up to the relationship, which is the part that makes us as readers care. Izzie tells me they were tensely, madly in love before I had a chance to form an opinion about it.
That said, my main complaint about the book (and you can see I’ve already had quite a few so far) is its treatment of magic. All other books of a similar genre I’ve previously read builds a world and sets out clear rules of how magic fits into it. Whether it is wands, or different abilities, or the presence of certain magical creatures, races or occupations, there is a perspective and a history of what magic is and how it works in the world. There are also magical limits and levels of difficulty, like the time and effort it takes to conjure a spell or potion, or the training someone has to go through to master their powers.
None of this was established in Tris and Izzie. Instead, every magic cliché felt randomly thrown in. There are magical objects, potions, elemental magic, magical creatures, magical places, but most of it is poorly explained and doesn’t enhance the story. Izzie’s mom is a witch and potions maker, Izzie is an elemental sorceress, Tristan is an alchemist from a magical island, Branna’s grandmother may or may not be able to see into the future, but not once in the book does it describe what all of it means beyond the very basics.
Going back through the notes I made, the phrase “Seriously?!” was used so often I felt like I was reading a script of the Gilmore Girls. Events happen with no explanation and then resolved with little to no effort. Izzie, with no formal training, is simply told by her mom she actually has elemental powers and suddenly she’s throwing fireballs left, right and center. Tristan’s magic sword defeats a two-headed dog, and then they both kill a giant that is chasing magic. Most ridiculous of all, Izzie defeats the main antagonist (a tyrant of a giant serpent) using the power of its ‘true name’ which she learns in a flashback of her dad shown to her by the giant serpent himself! The concept, commonly found in Egyptian Myth, was just another thing thrown into the mess of a world the story inhabits. When Tristan is blinded during the final battle, I felt a small glimmer of hope, but he is healed instantly by one of her mom’s potions. It’s like any attempt at depth in the story ignored. Every resolution is a deus ex machina. It is all just a pile of absolutely ludicrous hodgepodge.
I honestly wonder what was going through the author’s mind. Reading through a few interviews with her, she seems well educated and well spoken. Her answers are thoughtful, researched and informative. It’s too bad that didn’t translate into her fiction at all. I hope the book goes through a thorough edit before its general release, but I’m not holding my breath. (less)
I am always hopeful (perhaps naively so) about the Goddess Test books, because I love mythology retellings. How...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews.
I am always hopeful (perhaps naively so) about the Goddess Test books, because I love mythology retellings. However, the first two books were disappointing due to poor characterisation and predictable plots. The latest offering, The Goddess Legacy, includes five short stories from the point of view of the other gods and goddesses and delves deeper into their histories and character. While I was frustrated by more of the same from Aimée Carter, some of the stories made me feel emotions other than frustration, and I took that as a good sign.
The first story was about Hera (Calliope), her love for Hades (Henry) and how she reluctantly ended up married to Zeus (Walter) instead. It was predictable, falling for a man who committed to change himself but didn't, but I really sympathised with Hera, who only wanted to rule on her own terms as a daughter of Titans should. In fact, I liked her much more here as opposed to the outline of a villain that she was in the first two books. It was nice to see her as a strong personality who stood up for her ideals, instead of being motivated purely by unrequited love. One small detail did bother me, which was the fact that everyone seemed aware of her feelings for Henry, yet we're supposed to believe no one was suspicious of her as the culprit in the first book? You would think immortals have longer memory spans than that.
Both Aphrodite (Ava) and Hermes (James) were also portrayed well in their stories. Aphrodite learned something about the different types of love offered to her, caught in a love triangle with Ares and Hephaestus. Hermes, who hurt Hades by cheating with Persephone, learned about love and the pain of loss. His story also attempted to explain why the gods/goddesses now go by different names. Again, I expected a little more about the revelation, but it was another case of the concept being more interesting than the execution.
On the other hand, the other two stories were perfect example of why the series frustrates me—characters like Persephone and Hades (Henry). Persephone was whiny, self-righteous and utterly selfish. She judged Hermes and Aphrodite for 'cheating' on her, but seemed to forget that she did the same to Hades. Her immaturity and hypocritical behaviour (not unlike Kate) was unbearable and my distaste for her grew from the last book. On the opposite end of the scale was Hades, who, for a powerful god and ruler has absolutely no backbone. He is a coward, for choosing the easy way out and being unable to move on from Persephone. Man up Henry, get on with your reponsibilities and have some courage to try to find love, instead of fading and being a simpering idiot.
So all in all, I rated it slightly higher than the first two books because I liked some of the characters better as a result of these stories and probably because of the lack of Kate. A great read for fans of the series, but for those that didn't like it you could probably do without.(less)
I was disappointed in the first book of the series, The Goddess Test mainly because of the weak plot. I was dra...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews.
I was disappointed in the first book of the series, The Goddess Test mainly because of the weak plot. I was drawn in with the ‘trials’ and expected more from them. This time, I was hopeful that it would be better, especially since I’m a big fan of mythology and there are so many rich stories to draw inspiration from, but alas. I was disappointed again, but for an entirely different reason.
After taking 6 months off to spend the summer in Greece following the events of the last book, Kate comes home to the Underworld for the first time to take her place as Henry’s wife and queen. What she finds is a distant Henry, curiously bleeding. Things get a little more exciting as the story is based around the awakening of the Titan Cronos by Calliope, who was shunned by the Kate, Henry and the other Gods and seeks her revenge.
Naturally, Kate makes it all about her. Kate is absolutely my biggest issue with this book—I have never met a more frustrating heroine! She’s been in the Underworld for all of a day and she’s already complaining about Henry’s lack of attention and affection, where I felt that Henry was actually being mature and protecting her. Kate is so emotionally unstable and needy and it makes her really unlikable. “What you want should never dictate what you do.”, Henry quotes. Maybe I’m showing my age but I think this is a good lesson in maturity, Kate. Maybe next time you don’t leave the man you supposedly love after a day of hardship?
After the anti-climatic mid-climax where Henry and some of the other Gods are captured by Cronos, Kate then journeys with James and Ava to seek Persephone's help, the only individual who knows where to find them. Kate percieves Persephone as selfish and manipulative, and cannot stop being jealous of her and it clouds her judgement. It is a little unfair on Persephone as she has had to endure thousands of years in a loveless marriage and it's not her fault Henry loved her and not the other way around. I seriously just wanted to yell, STAND UP FOR YOURSELF to Kate. The only redeeming thing about the whole 'quest' was the banter between Ava and Persephone.
In the end, Kate is fatalistic, the battle is pointless and Henry makes a complete 180 and showers her with love and affection. There is a shocking but predictable (don’t ask me, it just is) cliffhanger at the end, which will probably hook me into reading the final book. All in all, I expected so much more, given the potential of the world Aimee Carter built. If you like frustratingly weak female protagonists, then you’ll enjoy this book better than me.(less)
Crown of Midnight was an epic read in all respects. What I loved about the first book was all here and MORE. There was more world building, m...more4.5 stars
Crown of Midnight was an epic read in all respects. What I loved about the first book was all here and MORE. There was more world building, more character development, more magic, more surprises, and just generally more awesome. For a high fantasy lover like me, this wasn't the fantasy-light of Throne of Glass and I loved it for that.
At the end of the first book, Celaena was appointed the King’s Champion and is now being sent off to do assassin-like things to whoever the King decrees…or does she? Sarah J. Maas once again gives us the perfect balanced heroine in Celaena. She’s ruthless, but caring, frivolous, but business-like, loving, but heartless when she needs to be. What she went through in this story was incredible and I admire Celaena so much for it.
Thank you to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for providing and advanced copy of this book for review!
I have to start this off by saying that Julie Kagawa blew my expectations away. In this saturated genre, I never expected such a refreshing take on the vampire story, and I truly enjoyed this book.
The Immortal Rules takes place in a dystopian future where vampires rule over cities and humankind have been all but wiped out by the Red Lung disease. Humans have little choice—either become a marked as a registered 'pet' used for feeding, or choose to be free but have to fend for yourself. Allie Sekemoto is one of these unregistered humans, constantly living in hunger and facing the harsh realities of life in New Covington. She's tough, she's street smart and she would rather starve than take a vampire’s mark.
One night when Allie wanders out of the city walls to find food, she is attacked by Rabids (zombie-like vampires who cannot control their hunger) and left for dead. A mysterious vampire comes and offers her a choice—either die or become like him. I really admire Allie's self-preservation instinct here, even though she knew she would struggle living as something she hates. It's refreshingly different from so many other heroines that want to throw themselves into danger, not appreciating the value of their lives or thinking about the consequences. The entire turning scene was so grim it made me feel ill and I attribute that to great writing. This book does not shy away from the unpleasant.
Kagawa excels as always at world-building, this time by adding her own twists to vampire and zombie lore. There is nothing romanticised in this book in the slightest. The environment is extremely harsh and it’s survival of the fittest where it matters most—in the real world. Despite a few slow-moving sections in the middle, the majority of the book was paced well. There were so many plots and reveals throughout the story that I couldn’t put the book down. I just had to find out more about the intriguing future they all lived in.
The book follows Allie’s journey of discovery as she learns more about why things are the way they are in her world. She is an extremely well-developed heroine. We see her dealing with her internal struggles, such as coming to grips with her morality versus her need to survive and learning cruel lessons about leaving her past behind. She’s flawed, brave and you can’t help but root for her all the way through the book.
The supporting cast is equally great. Kanin, Allie’s vampire sire, acts as a ‘sexy Yoda’ (never thought I would use those two words together), mentoring the newly turned Allie. He clues Allie in about the state of the world, and teaches her about how to sate her blood lust and how to defend herself (katanas, baby). He also has a deep backstory himself, and I’m looking forward to more of him in the books to come.
And of course the world isn’t complete without a love interest—good, kind, human Zeke, a God-fearing natural leader with not a trace of arrogance about him. It’s so rare to find a male character in young adult fiction that isn’t afflicted with ‘I’m too emo for my shirt’ syndrome. Sure he had his own struggles and doubts to contend with, but it was mainly about the welfare of others, not just himself. It was a pleasure to see his relationship with Allie develop slowly, convincingly and a little bittersweetly as both of them had very realistic notions about where their attraction could go. So refreshing.
I was also extremely satisfied with the ending. To me, there was a nice balance of wrapping up the current story and leaving other things in the air to keep you wanting more from the sequels. Which I definitely do. Overall, a fantastic read!(less)
I couldn’t help myself. It was almost like the feeling you get when you’re in an accident–I was awa...more2.5 stars, originally published at Winged Reviews.
I couldn’t help myself. It was almost like the feeling you get when you’re in an accident–I was aware I was falling, but I wasn’t able to stop my fall. It’s this weird out of body experience that I got reading this book and why I’m absolutely mystified that I finished it and managed to somewhat enjoy it.
The premise of The Selection seemed really fun. 35 girls out of all that applied in the nation would be picked to compete to be the new wife of Prince Maxon and become the future queen. I love bad reality TV and thought this was right up my street. Unfortunately, the premise is pretty much where the fun stopped.
For something billed as a dystopian novel, the world-building was tenuous at best. There is a caste system in place, from 1-8. The heroine, America Singer, is one of the lower castes, 5, full of artists. We are told that her family are just above poverty, but she not only has a roof over her head but she has her own room, a meal (with leftovers) every evening and and even a treehouse. From what I gathered, they don’t have cakes and make-up. What a sorry existence.
America then gets guilted into applying for the Selection by her society-climbing mother and her too-manly-to-be-burdened-by-guilt boyfriend Aspen. As timing would have it, Aspen breaks up with her for being able to provide for him (this guy has serious caveman issues). So she enters the Selection single, and moony over Aspen. However, she does end up getting to know Prince Maxon and discovering he’s got a little more substance and slowly becomes his friend, then falls for him. As luck would have it, Aspen somehow also crawls his way back into her life, and you have here a very standard love triangle.
The writing is terrible. It’s a classic case of telling not showing. When appearances are described, it’s very amatuerish and emotions are portrayed too obviously. If someone is sad, it’s almost like they come out and say “I’m sad”. This gives the impression that all the characters are caricaratures and they lack the depth and complexity that makes you want to care about them. And I find that I don’t really care about America, Aspen, Maxon or who ends up with who.
There also wasn’t very much plot to the book. Girls leave the Selection, but you don’t find out enough about them to care why or be sad that they did. There is a particularly horrible girl, who is supposed to be the antagonist, but the best she could do was rip a sleeve off America’s dress. There are random attacks of rebellion by some unknown outside forces (the North and South), but it was very sporadic and disconnected with the rest of the story. I think we were supposed to feel the girls were in danger (I didn’t), and I’m still not really sure why that was even included, except to make the book “more dystopian”. It also ended very abruptly, and it as a short book as it was. I felt like the author is saving up for the sequels, but I think a little more could’ve actually happened in this book, if only to make me care a bit more about what happens next.
Oddly enough, I do, though. Like those bad reality shows, I kind of want to see how it all pans out, even though everything has been utterly predictable so far. It didn’t infuriate me, like Aimee Carter’s Goddess Test series, and I think morbid curiosity is the best thing to describe how I feel about the book. I’m hoping Cass throws some twists and spends more time developing the characters so we can be truly invested in their inevitable departures.
I think the concept would work better as a TV show and I will definitely be watching the CW pilot when it comes out. As for the book, read it for the morbid curiosity factor, if you can manage to get through the writing.(less)
My blogger friends all know I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary, so when I find one I love, I’m telling you guys—it’s really, really good. Trouble...moreMy blogger friends all know I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary, so when I find one I love, I’m telling you guys—it’s really, really good. Trouble is everything I love about UK young adult fiction. It deals with the big issues in a humorous way. It portrays teens realistically. It’s got swearing, sex and snark. Basically, I absolutely adored it
The story is told from both Hannah Shepard and Aaron Tyler. Hannah is smart, fun-loving, with a not-completely-true reputation for promiscuity. Aaron is the new kid in school, escaping his past and trying to be as normal as possible. Then Hannah finds herself pregnant and friendless and the only person who offers to help is Aaron—by pretending to be the baby’s father.
One of the best things about the book is the authenticity of the characters’ voices...