Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) by Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: January 27th 2015
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.
(from Goodreads)

The Mime Order was a very good sequel to The Bone Season, and while it wasn't quite as good as book one, it's definitely made me want to keep going with this series, and I'm already really excited about book three.

Paige unfortunately didn't get to relax and put her feet up in this book. She may have escaped the Rephs, but she was still concerned about all the people who didn't get out with her, and the way the Rephs were controlling everything from the shadows. What I really liked about her in this book is that she actually wanted to do something. She wasn't content to just sit and hide away, hoping no-one would find her. She wanted to reveal what was really going on, she wanted to help all of the people who had been captured. And even though Jax refused to even acknowledge what was going on (and in fact, made some horrible threats and told her to shut up about it or get out), she found more covert ways of carrying out her plans, and it made me appreciate her character even more. Some of the ideas she came up with were really clever, and the thing she did at the end? That was very brave. She knew the risks, the consequences of losing, but she did it anyway, and that took guts.

Jax...well. We got to know him a lot more in this book, and honestly, he was creepy. I didn't like him at all. The way he just point-blank refused to even talk about what happened while Paige was captured just made me suspicious of him, and completely put me off. He didn't care at all what was happening in society, that the whole system was a sham. He was just concerned with his own power, and becoming a leader in his own circles. The way he treated Paige...it was like she was a precious object. He offered to protect her mostly because she was a tool that he needed. It was ack! That's why I like the fact that Paige chose to go against him and the way she chose to go against him, because of course, she still needed him for the time being, and she needed funding, so she had to be clever about her plans. Plus, Jax would have killed her if he found out what she was truly up to. She wanted to resolve issues, whereas Jax was just happy sitting on his throne. The scene towards the end, during the competition of sorts (I'd love to say more, but spoilers) was my absolute favourite part of the book.

Warden was unfortunately not in this book very much - he showed up about half way through - but I did expect that. As there are several more books to come, there's plenty of time to develop their relationship. I did like the parts he was in, though. The relationship between Warden and Paige was always going to be difficult. It didn't help that they had to hide it from the other rebel Rephs, otherwise they would never have agreed to help. It was an uneasy truce - the Rephs still hated humans, so Paige and Warden couldn't reveal what truly happened between them, and they also had barely any opportunities to be alone together. I am very intrigued to find out how they'll deal with everything (especially after that ending, because oh my God) and I look forward to seeing them hopefully spend more time together in the future!

Plot-wise, I think The Mime Order started off a little slowly. It suffered from some of the same issues as book one; a little bit of info-dumping, things like that. But I did enjoy the second half a lot, and that ending. That ending. I don't know what I expected, I kind of knew something like that was going to happen, but this was still pretty surprising and now I am dying to know what happens next. I have a love-hate relationship with cliffhangers. I want the next book, but the wait is sooo long.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Mime Order. If you liked the first book, definitely pick this up, and if you haven't started this series yet, I highly recommend it.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Mira Ink
Released: January 15th 2015
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

‘There are a dozen soldiers hiding in that maze all hunting you. All looking to kill you.’

To the outside world Ember Hill is an ordinary girl, but Ember has a deadly secret. A dragon hiding in human form, she is destined to fight the shadowy Order of St.George, a powerful society of dragonslayers. St. George soldier Garret is determined to kill Ember and her kind. Until her bravery makes him question all he’s been taught about dragons.

Now a war is coming and Garret and Ember must choose their sides – fight to save their bond or fulfil their fate and destroy one another
. (from Goodreads)

While Talon was not my favourite Julie Kagawa book, it was an interesting take on dragons and though I had a few issues with it, it was not a terrible read.

Ember had to grow on me. She was a little naive at the beginning and didn't seem to understand how important it was to Talon to conceal the existence of dragons to humans and the lengths they would go to ensure the secret was never revealed. Some of her actions were a bit reckless, though as someone who had been raised in isolation with only her twin for company and a bunch of trainers, I could understand her wanting freedom. I started to get her feelings more later on in the book, especially when she felt she was drifting away from her brother Dante (though again I feel she was a little bit naive/blinded when it came to him - it was so obvious what was going to happen at the end but she just couldn't see it). I also liked when she stood up for herself and didn't just take things at face value. Another thing I appreciated was how she immediately got on with the girls at the beach; there was no unnecessary drama and she became actual good friends with them, especially with Lexi, who was my favourite (though to be fair, Kristen kind of disappeared in the second half. I did feel that Kristen was not treated entirely fairly as a character but let's not go off on a tangent).

Garret had to grow on me as well. I felt he was really wooden at the beginning and his thoughts in his POV seemed kind of unrealistic. There was one line which I think was "I felt no remorse in killing the beast" that for me did not feel like something anyone would ever really say, even if they had been a soldier in a dragonslaying organisation their whole life. But his character did improve later on and I began to find his actions more believable. My favourite parts were the scenes where he had no clue how to react when he was with Ember, because he had spent his whole life killing dragons and didn't really know how to talk to a girl. As a love interest, I did prefer him to Zeke from the Immortal Rules series (though he had nothing on Ash from the Iron Fey), but I felt his feelings for Ember were perhaps a little, I don't know, dramatic? I think it was too soon for him to say she was "the most important thing in his life", when he LITERALLY knew barely anything about her because her whole backstory was a lie (and vice versa, because he lied about his past as well).

Riley was just an okay character. I felt the random inclusion of his POV half way through was kind of annoying and unnecessary. When I've gotten used to only having two POVs, I don't then want a random and sporadic third POV added half way through. And though this was supposed to be a love triangle, and undoubtedly Riley as a love interest will be explored more in book two, I personally didn't see him as a real contender. His attraction to Ember had even less substance than Garret's; they literally only liked each other because they were both dragons and there was some sort of instinctive connection going on.

Plot-wise, most things were kind of predictable, which meant I skimmed a few scenes that were set-up to something that was supposed to be surprising but wasn't because it wasn't very difficult to work out. There wasn't a lot of action, most things were just Ember's daily life and her finding out information about Talon and her training and things like that, but most of it was okay. I am intrigued to find out what will happen next though, though I'm hoping the next book will explain a little more about dragons and their history, because we didn't get to find out too much in this one. I would also like to see Ember put her training to use and actually do cool things in her dragon form.

Overall, Talon wasn't fantastic but it was worth reading and I'll likely continue with the series (I just like dragons too much).

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Review: The Boy with the Hidden Name by Skylar Dorset

The Boy with the Hidden Name (Otherworld #2) by Skylar Dorset
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Released: December 2nd 2014
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

This is not your average trip to Fairyland...

Selkie Stewart has just saved her quasi-boyfriend, Ben, from a fairy prison run by the Seelie Court. If they weren't the two most-wanted individuals in the Otherworld before, they definitely are now. Along with Ben and the rest of their ragtag group of allies-Selkie's ogre aunts; a wizard named Will; Ben's cousin Safford; and Kelsey, Selkie's best friend-Selkie is ready to embrace her destiny and bring the Court down. Until she hears the rest of her prophecy: Benedict le Fay will betray you, and then he will die.
(from Goodreads)

The Boy with the Hidden Name was an okay sequel to The Girl Who Never Was, but it left me a bit disappointed.

Selkie was pretty much in denial about her feelings for Ben for the first part of the book, which started to get on my nerves after a while. She just kept going on and on and on about how he "left" her - to be honest, I don't know why she was SO upset about it she hardly knew anything about him anyway. And so after that she was like "ugh, I'm so not in love with him anymore!" which just made me roll my eyes continually because she obviously was (though I don't know why, the first book was a bit insta-lovey) and her constant denial just made her sound like a stubborn child. It got repetitive. But I did understand her frustrations about her lack of powers. She felt like she was unable to do anything useful for the group and she wished she could do magic like Will or the Erlking. I do wish her naming ability had been explored more; we never really found out much about how it worked or why some people were better at it than others, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Ben was a bit blah in this book. I had no particular feelings towards him. He was kind of boring. But he did save Selkie a few times (and she him). I do think there could have been more focus on his hidden name, it was sort of all brushed over, but oh well I guess. His mother was kind of peculiar, I didn't really get what she was aiming for, and it was a shame we didn't get to learn more about her past and her relationship with Ben. However, I did like her parts in the book even if she was kind of odd.

Plot-wise, I got confused about certain things and some things seemed way too convenient. The world building could have been better. First of all, what was the point of the Urisks? That storyline didn't seem to go anywhere. And the introduction of the two new characters towards the end was a little rushed and odd. Plus, how convenient was it that they managed to find them so easily? I also didn't get why Will did what he did and why it was so important to get that box, and I felt like the book ended somewhat suddenly and confusingly. I don't know. I think maybe the pacing was a bit off, and random things kept happening out of nowhere. The "twist" about the last fay...eh I don't know. It was weird and I didn't understand how it was possible. I also wanted to see more of the Unseelie court (though I did enjoy the parts we did see). Plus, Selkie and her mother never resolved their issues, and in fact barely talked at all - like, what happened after the thing at the end? It just ended without explaining anything. I did really like the Erlking though and the scenes involving him. He was very perceptive, and very funny and was a nice addition to the cast of characters.

Overall, The Boy with the Hidden Name wasn't bad, but I feel like things could have been explained better, and an extra chapter or two would have been nice so we could have found out more about the aftermath.