Thursday, 23 February 2017

Three Mini Reviews

The Infinite (Gates of Thread and Stone #2) by Lori M. Lee
Publisher: Skyscape
Released: March 10th 2015
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.

Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

In this thrilling sequel to
Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known. (from Goodreads)

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and while this one was good, I didn’t like it quite as much. 

Kai was struggling with several things in this book; after the end of book one, she was feeling guilty and unsure of herself. There was also the fact that she couldn’t seem to use her powers, which was highly concerning. I so wanted her to tell someone but she wouldn’t and I was worrying the whole time what this would mean for. As the book went on, Kai became more assertive and I appreciated her character development.

Avan wasn’t in this book as much as, and when he was, he was very different (as to be expected after the end of book one). I wanted him to get his memories back so much, and even though I knew there would be a love triangle in this book (the typical “the first guy isn’t here so let’s give this other guy a chance”) I couldn't get behind it because I still remembered how Avan was in book one and couldn’t properly root for the other love interest (even though he was actually really nice).

I loved that we got to find out more about the world in this book, and explored different places. The writing was really engaging and I liked reading about the new characters that were introduced.

The ending was another huge cliffhanger and I have no idea if we’re getting a book three, so I am left with many, many questions. I really am hoping for another book, because I’ve enjoyed this series overall and would like to see how it all ends!


The Inquisition (Summoner #2) by Taran Matharu
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Released: May 5th 2016
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
On trial for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must face the Inquisition who will decide his future - the process is gruelling, lead by those who will do anything to see him suffer and haunted by ghosts from the past with clues to Fletcher's tragic origins.

But Fletcher has little time to dwell on these new revelations when the king announces a deadly challenge to the graduating students at Vocans. One that involves entering Orc territory to complete a risky mission. With loyal demons by their sides, commoners and nobles, dwarves and elves must overcome barriers of class and race and work together to triumph. The reward: a fortune in gold, the safety of an empire and PEACE.

With the entire empire watching, Fletcher has much to prove, but there are those out to get him and it soon becomes clear that there's a traitor in their midst, trying to thwart the mission and create unrest within the Empire.

With everything stacked against him, Fletcher must use everything in his power to fight his way to victory.
(from Goodreads)

This is another book that, while still good, I didn’t enjoy as much as the first in the series. I did really like seeing all the characters again and jumping back into the world, and it was great to learn more about the magic system, which is one of the main reasons these books are so appealing. At the same time, however I had a few issues. Mostly I was left a little confused at how some things occurred and I questioned the reason behind certain events [spoiler, highlight to view] I couldn’t get behind making Fletcher a noble, wasn’t the point that he didn’t have to be? To me, it kind of undermined the message of the last book, though that is of course just my opinion[end of spoiler]. I also wanted to spend more time at Vocans, but I could understand why this didn’t happen and there was a lot of other exciting stuff going on that made up for it. One thing I really would have liked to have seen was how Fletcher recovered; he spent a year locked up in a cell, isolated from the rest of the world, and yet he seemed to get over it pretty quickly. I wish we could have had more insight into his thoughts. I did like this book overall, though, the plot was interesting, and Fletcher was a compelling main character that you couldn’t help but root for. I will definitely be reading the next book, and look forward to finding out what will happen next!


The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Released: March 24th 2016
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
10 parts 12 hours 1 minute

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
(from Goodreads)

The Winner’s Kiss was a really satisfying conclusion to the series, and I am very much looking forward to whatever Marie Rutkoski writes next.

If we were to compare the Kestrel and Arin from this book to the Kestrel and Arin in book one, the differences would obvious. The character development for these two has been excellent; in this book, they were older and wiser. They had both been through so much, and had both changed in different ways. Kestrel’s final confrontation with the emperor was one example of how she had grown. She had always had a brilliant mind but this just showed what she willing to do now that she wouldn’t have done before. Arin played an important role as well, he was less reckless, and I really enjoyed getting to know him more in this book. Their relationship was never going to be smooth sailing, but I liked that it wasn’t easy, that they had to work hard for it, and I actually really appreciated that we got a happily ever after, because these characters deserved to be happy! I would have been devastated if it ended any other way.

There were some intense twists in this book and I think I finished the whole thing in one day because I was desperate to find out what would happen. The writing was as compelling as ever and while I’m sad this series is over, I am now eagerly awaiting Marie Rutkoski's next book.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Review: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V. E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Released: 21st February 2017
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
The battle between four magical Londons comes to a head in this stunning finale to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Magic trilogy by rising star V. E. Schwab

London's fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to
A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies. (from Goodreads)

This was such a satisfying ending to this trilogy. And that is high praise indeed coming from me, since I have a habit of disliking the third books in trilogies. Not this time though. The story was as exciting as ever, the magic was just as wonderful and oh, the characters! Possibly my favourite part of these books. I am really sad to see this series end.

This book started right after the end of book two (which was cliffhangery as hell, if you remember). We were put straight back into the action right from the start, which I really enjoyed. We also learnt a lot of interesting things in this book. This was especially true of Alucard and Holland, who had previously been very mysterious characters. I don’t know how, but Victoria Schwab managed to get me to feel sorry for Holland. After everything he’d done, I still felt bad for him. We also found out a lot more about the King and Queen (Rhy’s parents), which I actually liked, because I had never been a fan of them in the previous books, so it was interesting to see why they acted the way they did.

We also discovered what happened between Rhy and Alucard. I think Alucard’s POV was one of my favourites. I loved seeing his true feelings for Rhy, but I also liked finding out about his magic and how it worked. He knew things even Kell didn’t know and it explained a lot about his actions in the previous book, when he agreed to take Lila aboard his ship. I really enjoyed reading about him – and I was rooting for him in his attempt to get Rhy to forgive him, because really, who could not like Alucard? (Apart from Kell, obviously.)

Speaking of Kell, and Lila, there was finally a Kell and Lila! I had been waiting for this since book one. These two, they just…understood each other. Even if they didn’t always agree, they knew each other too well to try and talk the other out of what they wanted to do. I do wish we had seen a bit more of Kell teaching Lila magic, because while she was incredibly strong, she was still mostly untrained and lacked the control she needed. However, I really loved seeing Lila use her magic and the unique strategies she would come up with. It was what made her so dangerous – no-one really ever knew what she was going to do. Kell, though, was still my favourite character. He’d been through so much, and while he always took it in his stride, I just wanted him to be happy!

Plot-wise, I was pretty much hooked the entire time. There were a few slow parts – I have to say Osaron’s point of view was not my favourite – but overall, I was kept very engaged throughout. Osaron was a strange villain, no-one had ever really seen anything like him before in any of the four Londons, and he was so powerful it was difficult to see any way of defeating him. All the plans they came up with to combat him were clever, but were really only holding him off temporarily. Seeing Kell, Lila, Holland and Alucard having to work together was one of the reasons I really loved this book. They had to get over their grudges, and it was not an easy thing (especially for Lila). One thing that I do wish we had learnt more about was Kell’s origins - I’d been wanting to know more about him since the first book. I did also think a lot of the chapters ended on very dramatic last lines. Apart from that though, I was very impressed with this book.

Overall, this series has been a pleasure to read, and I highly recommend it to any fantasy fan. A Conjuring of Light was a great finale, and I am honestly going to miss these characters so much. I look forward to whatever Victoria Schwab writes next!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Book of Dust

I have been trying to write this post all day. I don't know how to express my feelings. THE BOOK OF DUST. AFTER ALL THIS TIME. I had given up hope. I honestly thought we were never getting it, and even if we were, I thought it would be an encyclopaedia or something, with a few short stories. NOT A WHOLE NEW COMPANION TRILOGY.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, yesterday (or technically, midnight today, but I saw it before I went to sleep), it was announced that Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, would be releasing a new companion trilogy about Lyra. In October. Of THIS YEAR. I direct you to this article for more information.

WAS ANYONE EXPECTING THIS?! The few people who knew must have had so much trouble keeping their mouths shut - I know I would have been singing from the rooftops. 13/14 year old Liz ADORED the His Dark Materials trilogy. There are some books that just change you as a person, and this series did that for me. I think I cried for like, a whole day after finishing The Amber Spyglass. I vividly remember my young teen self writing in my diary about it (those were the days).

I was so shocked when I heard this news that originally, I didn't believe it. Then when all the newspapers started releasing their articles, it finally hit me that after all these years of waiting, The Book of Dust was actually a thing. A thing that we could read. About LYRA. And some new characters - but LYRA.

The first book in the trilogy (the one releasing in October) is set ten years before Northern Lights. I have to admit, I am not super enthused about this (I want to read about adult Lyra so much, but we don't get to see her 'til book two), but I am putting my trust in Philip Pullman. More info on the books here.

So essentially, this rambling wreck of a post is just me saying I'm really, really excited for this new trilogy. But also terrified, because what if these new books ruin everything? What if my childhood is destroyed? I'm scared. I do not want this to be Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. In any case, I sense a reread of the original trilogy coming on (though I really don't want to cry for ten hours again after The Amber Spyglass...)

Will and Lyra forever.

(I wonder what the real cover will look like?)

Monday, 13 February 2017

Review: King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard

King's Cage (Red Queen #3) by Victoria Aveyard
Publisher: Orion
Released: February 9th 2017
My Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.
(from Goodreads)

I finished this book over the weekend, and all I can say is that I wish I read it slower, because the wait for the next book is going to be painful.

King’s Cage started off with Mare as Maven’s captive. What really got me about this portion of the book, where Mare was still unsure about what was going to happen to her, is that that she seemed to have a sliver of hope that there were certain things Maven wouldn’t do. After all the terrible things he had done in the last book, she was kind of subconsciously still holding out that maybe when it came to her, things would be different (and I think Cal thought the same, as pointed out by Cameron). And while certainly she could have been treated much much worse, Maven was still happy to chain her up and deeply mess with her mind and parade her around, despite the fact that he apparently loved her. Mare started to realise that she couldn’t rely on anyone but herself. She had to beat Maven at his own game – the game he played with her in Red Queen. I had to commend Mare for some of the things she made herself do or say in this book, because it must have been so hard to do what she did when she hated every second of it.

Maven was severely messed up. In this book, we got to see the real extent of the damage Elara’s powers did to him, and while I really didn’t want to feel sorry for him (he was, after all, a murderer), it was very difficult not to feel disgusted at how Elara had basically restructured his entire personality by chopping and changing his mind as she pleased. The things she did were horrific. And while I don’t think this excused Maven’s behaviour, it did make him a more complex character. It was impossible not to think of the person he might have been without Elara’s influence. I found the political aspects of this book really interesting, especially since Maven’s obsession with Mare was clouding his judgment and certain parties were taking advantage of that for their own purposes. Most of the Silvers really had no remorse when it came to their treatment of Reds and the entire time I was trying to figure out just exactly how everything was going to work out.

Evangeline started to grow on me in this book. She still had no regard for the lives of the Reds, but from what we saw of her in King’s Cage, I think that could change in the next book. She didn’t want to marry Maven, but she couldn’t marry the person she actually loved, Elane. She was essentially a subject of her father’s will, and had to do whatever he wanted. In that sense, she didn’t have much freedom. I generally enjoyed the chapters from her point of view, though there were a few parts that seemed a bit forced since her POV only cropped up in the latter half of the book. Cameron also grew on me in this book. I wasn’t the hugest fan of all of her chapters, but I like that she was blunt and to the point. It was a stark contrast to Cal, and I appreciated her honestly, and determination in regard to finding her brother.

Cal…what to say? He was clearly desperate to get Mare back. He loved her and would have done anything for her, and I suppose that was a strength. But for all of Maven’s many flaws, he was right about Cal in one of his early conversations with Mare in this book. Cal was somewhat weak-willed. He was always on the fence – in Red Queen, he couldn't say that he actually wanted anything to change because he was too afraid of the consequences, and he was the same in King’s Cage. He may have been strong and an excellent fighter, but decision-making, and understanding what needed to be done – these were areas where he was severely lacking. I think this will really cost him in the next book. More so than already. I’m hoping that his character will change in this sense, but I’m also wondering if it’s maybe too late at this point, which leaves some very interesting questions about what will happen between him and Mare.

Plot-wise, there were so many revelations in this book. I found Glass Sword slightly predictable, but King's Cage kept surprising me. The pacing was slow in a few parts, but I think some of the really good scenes made up for this. Maven didn't seem as sure of himself in this book, and I think Mare handled him the best she could and learnt a lot of useful information. Farley was pretty awesome in this book, being her usual self even while pregnant, and I liked getting to see the Scarlet Guard and finally learning more about their true plans. Mare’s family and Kilorn weren’t very prominent in this book, and neither was Julian – I hope we get to see more of them in book four. I also think the fact that [minor spoiler, highlight to read]loads of lightning users turned up in this book was a bit strange – I thought it was a really rare, unheard of power? How come no Silvers possessed it but a whole bunch of newbloods did? And on that point, I wonder if they will find a whisper newblood...[end of spoiler]. I have to say though, while there is usually a book in a series like this where the main couple is separated for most of it, I actually didn’t mind it too much in this book, which is surprising for me, because that is one of my least favourite tropes. I think I was okay with it here because we got to see Mare in a lot of interesting situations, so I wasn’t just constantly waiting for her to meet back up with Cal.

The ending needs its own separate paragraph because kjhigjkwb. I don’t even know what I expected, there was foreshadowing and everything. What the hell is going to happen in book four?

Overall, I really enjoyed King’s Cage and am looking forward to completing the series with the next book (though I can’t believe we have to wait a whole year…).