Thursday, 19 January 2017

Two Mini Reviews

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Released: April 2nd 2013
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...
(from Goodreads)

This book was a lot darker than the first in this series, and I’m not sure I enjoyed it as much. Sybella was definitely an interesting character, who had been through some truly awful stuff in her life. She was less, I don’t know, righteous, than Ismae from Grave Mercy, which I liked, because not everyone can be so sure that what they are doing is right, all the time. She questioned Mortmain and whether what she was doing was really the best way to serve him, or to rid the world of evil. Having to go back to her family, after everything that happened, was so difficult, but she did it because that's what the Abbess asked of her, as a daughter of Mortmain. And her character developed so much over the book; she learnt more about herself, about Mortmain, about what needed to be done. And her relationship with Beast was one I really enjoyed reading about. I didn’t like Dark Triumph as much as book one because I think I just enjoyed the plot of the first book more. However, Sybella was a compelling character and it was a good sequel as whole, so I will be picking up the final book in the series at some point.

The Grift of the Magi (Heist Society #3.5) by Ally Carter
Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: November 15th 2016
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Katarina Bishop is a thief. To many it wouldn't matter that she now uses her considerable skills to re-steal valuable works of art and return them to their rightful homes.

She's still a thief.

So that's why Kat's surprised when an Interpol agent comes to her one snowy evening, asking for her help.

The Magi Miracle Network was set to auction off a very rare, very valuable Faberge egg two days before Christmas, but the egg's been stolen and now the charity's reputation - and their future - is on the line.

This Christmas, Santa isn't the only person skulking in the darkness...
(from Goodreads)

This novella was everything I wanted it to be. I didn’t realise how much I had missed these characters, but oh my. The story was great, I got the exact same vibe I always get from the Heist Society books and it was it was so easy to jump back into Kat and Hale’s world. And it was so festive! And Christmassy and a perfect little winter read. The story was engaging; perhaps not the most complex or exciting Heist Society story, but it was a short novella and a lot of the time, I still couldn’t guess what was going to happen. And there were so many cute moments between Kat and Hale - I love these two so much. Please, please, please, with triple cherries on top, will someone publish a fourth Heist Society book?! I need more – this novella has proven how much! I mean, we still haven’t been told what Hale’s first name is. Wulfric? Wilfred? Warburton? I HAVE TO KNOW. Overall, I loved it – I only wish it were longer! And I am missing this series and these characters more than ever (seriously, if you’ve not started the Heist Society books yet, get on that, because you are missing out).

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #78

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Best Kind of Magic (Amber Sand #1) by Crystal Cestari
May 16th 2017
Find it on Goodreads
Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate.

Amber works at her mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match?

The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings. (from Goodreads)

This sounds adorable. I haven't read anything with this kind of plot before! And it has everything I like in it - witches, magic, problems to overcome, wit, a sassy heroine - I mean, what's not to like? I can just imagine Amber's predicament and how she must be feeling - and I am extremely curious as to how things are going to turn out. I'm hoping this is going to be a really fun and cute book and I can't wait to read it! I can't decide whether I like the cover or not (kind of?) but I'll be reading it no matter what - now to wait for May!

What are you waiting on this week?

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Liz's Lists #4: Books on My Birthday Wishlist

Well I haven't done this feature in...over three years. (I forget that I have been blogging for a really long time.) Anyway, it's my birthday at the end of February (I feel so old), and as as result, I have been putting together a bookish wishlist for myself. That definitely counts as list-making, so please see below for all the books on my birthday wishlist!

[All images from Goodreads. Clicking on the image will take you to the book's Goodreads page]

There are more books, of course, but I've picked the ones I'd be most excited to read. So there you have it. Have you read any of these? Are there any books you recommend I add to my list?

Friday, 6 January 2017

Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Released: October 20th 2016
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the
Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They've totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics,
Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless. (from Goodreads)

I have a lot of thoughts about this book, and those thoughts are why do the authors hate us and when is the next book coming out???

I was initially reluctant to pick up Gemina when I realised that Kady and Ezra would no longer be the main characters. I loved Illuminae so much and thought that it just wouldn’t be the same with new characters taking the lead. Well, I was wrong. This book was excellent. Okay, I didn’t love it quite as much as Illuminae (but I always tend to favour the first books in series), but it was still a great sequel. My notes from reading this book are somewhat of an incoherent mess, with lots of “WHY”s and “WTF?!”s as well as expletives I probably shouldn’t type up in this review.

Our new leads in this book were Hanna and Nik. It did take a while for them to grow on me (especially Nik, I found him super cheesy to begin with). I didn’t take an immediate liking to them the way I did with Kady and Ezra. But by the end of the book, I was invested. It’s funny how attached you get to characters. You don’t realise it until something terrible happens and you think they might die and a big “NOOOOOO” goes through your head and you suddenly wonder why you’re so upset in the first place. There were a lot of those “NO” moments in this book. And I never knew what was going to happen. When this book started off, it was just following the daily lives of Hanna and Nik. I had no idea how they would be thrown into chaos, but thrown into chaos they were and it was awesome. I mean, terrible for them, but great for me to read about. Chronologically, this book took place both after the events of book one, and alongside them. It was so interesting to see how certain events from the first book had an impact in this one, and how a lot of things we didn’t understand to begin with were starting to make sense. I also really liked how, though there was an underlying romantic tension between the two main characters, it didn’t overtake the story. Both Hanna and Nik knew there were more important things to worry about than their relationships.

Ella was another fantastic character (I think she was my favourite). She was Nik’s cousin, and was absolutely hilarious, as well as ridiculously clever. Both Hanna and Nik would have died in the first few pages without her. Her role in the book was such an important one, and I really enjoyed every scene she was in. I also liked getting to see Kady’s dad in this book; he was desperate for news about his daughter, and it was just nice seeing all the connections between book one and two fall into place.

We also have to talk about the format of this book, because I loved it. I had no idea how Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff would pull it off again after Illuminae; surely, I thought, it would be boring the second time around? Nope, once more, I was wrong. The format is my favourite part of this series. So much effort must go into writing all these little extra bits; from linking to articles with funny titles in the Unipedia pages to coming up with usernames and blueprints and plans (not to mention the hilarious briefing notes, I honestly think those were my favourite). It makes each book all the more interesting and engaging, and I really appreciate the time that goes into that. It also lends itself so well to unravelling the story and revealing what has been going on; plot-wise, this book was so full of twists and more twists that were made even more unexpected because of the way the book was written and all the visuals that went along with it. It was also so funny (the lollipop song...I can't, it's making me want to laugh even now). And while perhaps this story was not quite as compelling as Illuminae, (because in my opinion, nothing compares to AIDAN), I enjoyed it and I’m already ridiculously excited for book three (and this time, I’m reading it as soon as its released – whoever the main characters are. The authors have earned my trust).

So overall, this book was great, this series is brilliant, and if you haven't already, you should pick it up.