“...I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn't have met, and who didn't like each other much when they did, but who found they were th
“...I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn't have met, and who didn't like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other.”
I experienced the whole spectrum of human emotion whilst reading Me Before You. It’s been so very long since a book this size has demanded I finish it in one sitting, but that’s exactly what this one did. For the life of me I can’t seem to stop thinking about it either. Jojo Moyes has crafted an utterly perfect story here, one with absolute staying power!
I’m not a huge adult contemporary reader. If the right book comes along, sure, I’ll give it a whirl, but for the most part I stay out of the general fiction section and stick to YA. After seeing the amazing trailer for Me Before You this week, however, something stuck. I wanted to learn about quirky Louisa Clark and immovable Will Traynor. I wanted to read Me Before You instantly.
Shoving it to the front of my reading pile, I jumped into the book with a mixture of excitement and trepidation (I knew it was going to be a tearjerker, alright?). The first thing I noticed about Jojo Moyes’ writing style was that it was quite different from anything else I’d ever read before. Writing as Lou Clarke (and other perspectives sometimes slip in), Jojo Moyes utilises such a casual and entertaining form of storytelling. I immediately felt a connection to Louisa, Will and the whole slew of characters within the novel.
Lou was bubbly, inventive and had a great sense of humour. At 26, she doesn’t quite know what to do with her life – or if she should do anything more with it – but she embraces what she’s got lets her individuality shine. Extremely relatable and lovable, Lou also grew immeasurably after her six month employment with the Traynors. I loved seeing her come alive and experience life!
Will was a tough man to initially get a handle on. Constantly pushing everyone away, especially Lou upon her arrival, he’s a man that’s lost everything – including his desire to live. Despite all this, Will keeps a firm grip on his unique sense of humour. It’s through this that he and Lou eventually begin a bond.
Then there’s Lou’s dad (hilarious), her mum (obsessed with the way posh people live) and sister Treena (selfish at times) who also add great layers to the story. There’s Lou’s boyfriend, Patrick – ‘Running Man’ - who is the very contrast of Will and the desperate and stoic Mrs and Mr Traynor. Each character brings something wonderful to Me Before You and it’s a delight to watch Louisa navigate the minefield that is love, loss and life.
Obviously, Louisa’s relationship with Will is the shining point of this book. Seeing them both connect and change with one another was beyond words. I’m getting all kinds of emotions just thinking about it. Lou wants to convince Will to live, while Will wants to teach Lou how to live.
There were laughs, tears, heart-warming moments and pits of despair. I was sucked into this story completely and utterly, and I couldn’t be happier about it. From Lou’s bumblebee tights to getting a wheelchair stuck in the mud at the racetrack, Me Before You was a memorable journey from start to finish. It was a story about the ability and right to make your own choices, while also not being afraid to take chances.
I am utterly ruined after the ending. I feel as if all my emotions have been ripped away from me temporarily while I stew over everything Me Before You made me experience. And yet – I don’t regret it. With the sequel, After You, coming out this year, I’m quite excited – but I also don’t feel that there needs to be another. Sure, it will be great to see how this characters advance and above all else, LIVE, I thought Me Before You ended in such a perfect way. I would be quite content in making up my own little fantasies about how everyone got on.
All I can say is this – if the movie trailer doesn’t make you feel anything at all, then Me Before You is not the book for you. However, if you are even the slightest bit curious about this unique story of love, run and pick it up immediately. You will not be disappointed.
“Love is a risk worth taking. I'd waited an eternity for this. I'd have waited all over again if I had to. I was meant to be kiss this boy, designed t
“Love is a risk worth taking. I'd waited an eternity for this. I'd have waited all over again if I had to. I was meant to be kiss this boy, designed to be held by him. All the careful postures I held melted away, and I pulled him closer. We were stars. We were music. We were time."
The Siren wasn’t my favourite book of all time, but it wasn’t a bad one, either. After having a very frustrating relationship with Kiera Cass’ other books, I was worried that The Siren would be simply another book of hers I fought to even like. However, being a fan of the subject matter (anything to do with mermaids – yay!) and that gorgeous cover, I thought I’d give it a shot. I was quite surprised with how easily enjoyable this one was.
This is Kiera Cass’ first novel, however it’s gone under some serious changes since it’s self-publication a few years ago. As I understand (not having read the original) it had a complete re-write and was picked up after the success of her Selection series.
While I found Kiera Cass’ previous work to be a little tedious and predictable, The Siren was quite unique in a lot of aspects. It was also a breeze to read and I managed to finish the 300 or so pages within the night. I wouldn’t class it as a favourite, but I’m glad I read it.
Kahlan is our narrator, and for the most part she’s quite likeable and easy to relate to. We first meet her moments before she undergoes her Siren transformation. I for one loved the mythology of the Sirens in this book – it was such a unique twist on everything I thought I knew about them. Their roaming way of life, their intermittent calls to the Sea and the induction of new Sirens was quite interesting. Some things were hard to get a grasp on (the sea-salt dresses, for one) but they added individual factors to the novel which I ended up really appreciating.
Another standout point of this book is the unique relationship Kahlan has with the Ocean herself. The Ocean is a lifeforce – a BEING – who constantly needs to be nourished in order to sustain human life on earth. The Ocean is god-like, constantly referred to as ‘Her’ or ‘She’… and each Siren has a different relationship with her. They are able to communicate with one another, too, which is both good and bad depending on your point of view. The Ocean can me a nurturing mother, or she can be a merciless punisher.
The ‘backbone’ of this story, however, tries too hard to be the romance between Kahlan and a human boy, Akinli. Sure, Akinli was likeable enough, but I felt the importance of the bond he and Kahlan shared had too much emphasis too soon. I loved the way they grew their friendship… Kahlan was unable to speak without inflicting her Siren powers, so she was a mute – communicating through sign language and handwritten notes and texts to Akinli – but amazingly, this didn’t hinder Akinli’s affection for her. It was certainly a unique sort of romance, but I felt I could have bought into it more given more time.
We’re supposed to believe by the end of it all that Akinli and Kahlan have this love that will wrench them apart if they’re not together – when all in all they’ve probably spent 48 hours in each other’s company, if that. It was with this direction that I started to lower my expectations for The Siren and its ending.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some fantastic developments (Aisling’s story and her relationship with Kahlan was another highlight), but there were some silly ones too (I never warmed up to Padma and her vendetta against her family). I also wish there had been more ‘meat’ to the story. Certain things happened over the course of one or two sentences, and I wish they’d been fleshed out a little for me to really get invested.
As for the ending, it left me a little cold.
The Siren is a quick and interesting read, so pick it up if you’re in any way intrigued. I wish some things had been expanded on, and some given less page time, but it certainly improved a few of my doubts about any of Kiera Cass’ upcoming work. You may be surprised!
“The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”
Red Queen was one of those ‘hype books’ of 2015 that I nev
“The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”
Red Queen was one of those ‘hype books’ of 2015 that I never really saw myself reading, but I hadn’t exactly given up on the idea, either. For me, it came with the slew of titles that attempted to capture the same sort of magic the Throne of Glass series had created previously and I didn’t expect it to deliver anything original.
However, with the imminent release of Glass Sword, I thought I might finally pick up this debut by Victoria Aveyard. I’ve been on quite the high fantasy YA blitz recently and thought myself in the right frame of mind to really enjoy this title!
Unfortunately, Red Queen never really reeled me in. I felt detached from the characters from beginning to end and never found myself caring about the world or the relationships that had formed. I considered DNF’ing around the halfway mark, but as I firmly believe in sticking it out until the end, I decided to trudge on. It’s a pretty tough thing to do when you can see that the story won’t be improving for you.
Mare Barrow was quite the wishy-washy leading lady. I felt she was constantly living up to some weird expectation that she was a tough girl, but inside she was quite ‘squishy’. Mare never felt genuine or relatable to me and that was a big part of why I didn’t enjoy Red Queen. She also suffered from ‘special snowflake syndrome’, in which she was a normal ‘Red’ girl who possessed ‘Silver’ powers. Gasp – she was more powerful than any red OR silver combined.
As for the love interests, I have no idea who we were supposed to root for or even care about. I don’t think Mare had any idea, either. There was Kilorn, the boy she’s known and cared about since they grew up together in the Stilts. There was Cal, the Crown Prince who saves her from conscription and teaches her to dance. And there was also Maven, Cal’s younger brother who encourages the plight of the Reds and is kind of second-best to Cal in all things.
I didn’t particularly like ANY of the love interests, or feel like any of them had a chance to grow throughout the events of Red Queen. Mare was constantly flipping between the three of them when it came to who held her highest affections, but she never really committed to anyone more than anyone else. I just didn’t feel that burn that told me I was feeling the romance on any level. It was quite a letdown. I think it was more of a case of TOO MANY CHOICES, and not enough room for anything to develop.
Plot-wise, things moved slowly and weren’t very exciting. There was the growing rebellion of the Reds in the form of an underground movement, which should have been captivating, but wasn’t. There was also a lot of Mare pretending to be a Silver-born lady and learning the ropes when it came to etiquette, harnessing her powers and navigating the minefield that was well-to-do society.
I don’t know what to say other than it was just way too bland for me.
Things picked up a TINY bit in the final arena battle, but not enough for me to really want to continue the series. I probably won’t be picking up Glass Sword, but I may change my mind closer to the release date if I feel as if I am willing to give Victoria Aveyard’s series another chance.
In terms of similar reads, I would liken it to The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. There was something about that book that held me back, too, and I found that a lot of the problems I had with The Winner’s Trilogy, I found within Red Queen.
"When you look at me, I’m suddenly warm. The sight of you makes my heart speed. Do you really think the only magic in this world comes from fire and i
"When you look at me, I’m suddenly warm. The sight of you makes my heart speed. Do you really think the only magic in this world comes from fire and ice?"
The Imposter Queen was a tempestuous journey from start to finish - a high-fantasy novel that grips you from the first very first page. It combines unique elements with familiar ones, making it not too left field for anyone not too fond of high fantasy.
The Imposter Queen is the first in a new series by Sarah Fine. Although I haven’t read any of her previous work, I am familiar with the covers and titles and I’m aware that her books are quite well-loved and received. Although The Imposter Queen was not one I’d heard much about, the pretty cover and intriguing synopsis quickly drew my interest. After reading the book, I have to say that the cover is so reflective of the story inside.
We follow Elli, a young girl of sixteen who is next in line to the throne – the next ‘Valtia’, the most powerful magic wielder in the lands of Kupara. Elli has been sheltered her whole life; plucked from her family when the flame-mark on her leg was discovered and ushered away to the temple in the city to live as a sort of ‘princess in waiting’. Although Elli would have no magic until the current Valtia, Sofia, died, she was revered by her people and coddled by all those inside the temple.
Elli is interesting. Even though she’s been brought up in the plush surrounds of the temple, and has never wanted for anything, she’s not the type of girl who demands everyone bow to her. She’s inquisitive, curious and – above all else – kind. Especially to her handmaiden, Mim, who Elli actually has romantic feelings for.
Yes, Elli is a bisexual narrator, but never once does this book dwell on the fact or treat it anything other than ‘normal’. Elli accepts her feelings and rarely does she comment on them, even inside her narrative. It is shown that Mim is quite often uncomfortable with how Elli feels about her, but Elli merely takes it in her stride, her love for Mim never failing.
The first half of the book was a whirlwind ride; one I couldn’t tear my eyes from. We’re immediately swept up into Elli’s world of magic and learning inside the temple, as well as learning all about her relationship with Mim, her Valtia Sofia and the ceremonies she’s a part of. There were some pretty interesting characters and developments – I particularly liked the Valtia, Sofia - even to the point where I had to take a moment and think to myself; Wow, this book is totally awesome.
Somewhere along the middle, though, things slowed down. While I was never disinterested (I managed to finish this book in two sittings), I did feel the pace and urgency of the story dissipating. Elli, now ‘banished’ to the Outlands, melds into the new life she’s found – a routine of grinding corn, sewing leathers and helping Oskar, someone who saved her life while she was out in the Outlands, with his icy dreams.
Elli discovers that although she may not be the Valtia, as she always thought, she still has a sort of power that will put her life in danger. I don’t want to spoil too much of what we learn about her powers (half the fun is figuring it out along the way, along with the role Elli will ultimately pay) but it turns her life upside down. Elli has to figure out this new path she’s on, as well as who to trust. And it all starts with Oskar, the boy who saved her life.
Oskar is an ice-wielder, a powerful one, although it’s a secret he keeps close to his chest. I can’t say I particularly LOVED the relationship between Elli and Oskar. I mean, it was okay as far as romances go, but I wasn’t completely sold or swooning over the two of them. Another important character, fire-wielder Sig, is introduced – but don’t worry, there is no hint of a love triangle. As far as characters go, I liked Elli and a few of the supporting characters such as Raimo, but I never really warmed up to Oskar or Sig despite their huge presence in the story.
Things pick up again near the end, when Raimo finally tells everyone what’s going on. It all culminates in a final assault, which is pretty exciting. I couldn’t help but feel, however, that so much was packed into the final few chapters. After so much ‘filler’ consisting of Elli finding herself in the middle, I think it could have been evened out a little more. Even if it had made the book longer.
There is a sort of ‘epilogue-like’ chapter at the end, which both summarised and hinted at the next instalment. Things were a little hastily wrapped up in a way I wasn’t quite happy with, especially concerning Elli’s place at the end of it all.
I’ll definitely be reading the second instalment – The Cursed Queen – when it comes out next year. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this one. Sarah Fine is a brilliant storyteller and I absolutely adored the journey she told with The Imposter Queen.
“I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end.”
Reviewing Truthwitch is so incredibly hard; one half of me reall
“I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end.”
Reviewing Truthwitch is so incredibly hard; one half of me really loved it, and the other half was constantly in a state of confusion about some of the world-building aspects. Warring thoughts aside, Truthwitch is fantastic in the way that it revolves around two best friends and their connection to one another.
First, I must say that I absolutely love Susan Dennard and her approach to writing. Some of her articles on writing have been SO helpful, and it’s clear just how passionate she is about the world of Truthwitch and its characters (seriously, look up the Pinterest board for Truthwitch. It’s marvellous). To say I was more than excited to dive into this one is an understatement. While it is my first Susan Dennard read, it won’t be the last.
Safi and Iseult were fantastic lead characters; the narrative swapping between them and two other POV characters throughout the course of the book. Safi was headstrong and impulsive while Iseult was the thinker. They made a great duo and the friendship between them was the high point of the book, as Susan Dennard intended. While both girls had their love interests (or soon-to-be love interests) it never got in the way of their friendship.
Our other two POV characters were the ‘love interests’, Merik and Aeduan. What I really liked about these two was that they existed to be more than just Safi and Iseult’s romance partners. I particularly enjoyed Aeduan – his story is quite intriguing and his morals questionable. He’s a formidable fighter, too, with dangerous powers. I can’t wait to see how his relationship with Iseult develops. While Safi and Merik were all sexual tension, Iseult and Aeduan were a ‘slow burn’.
There was really something for everyone within Truthwitch; great characters (also yay – Evrane the monk!), interesting mythology, a sweeping world, awesome fight scenes and swoon-worthy romance. I just had trouble trying to get a good grasp on a few of the more important aspects.
I never understood the many tiers of ‘Government’ within the world. There were things like guild masters, emperors, doges, domnas, princes… I had no idea where this placed our characters in social situations, nor who the real big players of power were. There were tonnes of ‘world-words’ thrown around, too, and most of the time I had no idea what they meant.
For the first few chapters, I was totally lost in terms of what was happening and who was what. Again, ‘world-words’ were thrown around and they were terms that were obviously integral to the world, but were yet to be explained. It had me very disorientated and a little disheartened to keep reading. I felt as if I needed a reference sheet to keep up.
There’s also a phenomenon called ‘cleaving’ that happens from time to time, and I’m still scratching my head. Do people cleave just because they’ve used too much power? Does someone cause them to cleave? I never felt I got a good idea of this aspect.
The same can be said for the ‘Cahr Arwen’. By the time the book was finished, I had a pretty good idea of what they were – or were meant to be – but I wasn’t 100% sure. I couldn’t recall if Susan Dennard had explained it earlier in the book. Also, Iseult was always thinking things like ‘iniate, statis, complete’ and I couldn’t work out if this had anything to do with her magic, or if it was more of a grounding ritual to keep herself calm.
It was due to all these factors that I had to, unfortunately, give the book a middle of the road rating. Yes, I enjoyed it and found the characters to be fantastic, but I was severely confused more than once throughout my reading. It wasn’t until the latter half of the book that I found that the many empires were starting to colour themselves as individual entities. For the longest time I was getting confused between the Dalmottis and the Cartorrans, the Nomatsi and the Nubrevans.
I will probably continue with the next instalment (which I believe is called Windwitch?) because I am really eager to see how things will play out (particularly between Iseult and Aeduan!) but I will need some brushing up on the terms before I go barrelling in!