Friday, 18 July 2014

Review: The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper
Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: September 4th 2014
My Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother - the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic - steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe's power.

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches' help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn't come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

A sweeping romance with a spellbinding twist - from a talented new voice in YA fiction.
(from Goodreads)

2014 has not been a good year for books for me. I have read some brilliant ones, but I've also had a lot more 1 and 2 stars than usual and unfortunately, The Witch of Salt and Storm is another for the 2 star category. I didn't loathe it, but I just don't think it's worth reading.

Avery was just a ridiculous character. Absolutely nothing about her made any sense. She was desperate, absolutely desperate, to become the next Roe witch, and I didn't understand why at all. She basically hated the people she would have been helping, she lived with her grandmother scraping by for twelve years and was barely taught ANYTHING about Roe witch magic and yet it was her life. Watching her grandmother suffer pain to use her magic and living in a tiny cottage with barely anything of her own was apparently her ideal life that she longed for, despite the fact she didn't even know what she would have to give up to become a Roe witch. I know she didn't know any better, but it was like some kind of weird brainwashing. She kept talking about her attachment to the island and not being able to leave; did that mean Roe witches only wanted to be Roe witches because of some weird magic that bound them? And THEN, after her mother took her away and tried to keep her away from magic, she didn't question why at all, she just immediately hated her mother and kept banging on about how one day she'd return and become the new Roe witch and take over from her grandmother. Except, she didn't ever try to leave to go back for FOUR years and even then it was only because of the dream she had that said she would die. And don't even get me started on the dream-telling crap, because that made even less sense. So apparently Avery had never been wrong, had never ever interpreted a dream incorrectly (by the way, we're never told how dream-telling works at all, Avery just KNEW what they meant), her OWN grandmother REJECTED her on the basis of this dream and yet suddenly later on her dreams just started changing for no discernible reason, and the dreams had choices and it was never explained why and then suddenly because the way the dreams had changed, Avery's interpretations became uncertain and ugh I can't explain to you how much this annoyed me. You can't have literal interpretations for dreams for 16 years and then suddenly say something was meant SYMBOLICALLY, not literally, in order to explain away something that happened.

But that's not all, oh no. Avery was one of those characters who ruins their friend's life asking for their help and then just doesn't care at all because at least they're not dead, right, and then completely forgets about that character until they're mentioned again briefly. This is so common in books. Characters ask for a friend's help, the friend does their best and then their life is literally ruined because of it, but oh, they never blame the protagonist ever because they're just such loyal and good friends, and the protagonist only feels guilty for like, five seconds, and it seriously annoys me. Don't use secondary characters in this way, just to serve a protagonist's storyline! It's not fair. And not only was Avery a life-ruiner, she was an idiot. Her mother CLEARLY had reasons for what she did, and yet when she tried to explain, Avery just refused to listen and refused to believe her, even though by doing so she was ENDANGERING HER OWN LIFE AS WELL AS TANE'S because she was just a stubborn brat who couldn't deal with the truth. I just wanted to shout at her "you stupid fool, if you can use magic, then your mother did tell the truth about the source of your power which means it IS pain and she's NOT BLOODY LYING so listen to her!". Not that her mother was perfect, because oh my God, if she had LITERALLY JUST TOLD AVERY EVERYTHING FROM THE START, none of this would have happened. "Oh, you wouldn't have listened!" is NOT an excuse to keep someone completely in the dark about their own future - that's just never a good idea! You don't know they wouldn't have listened! If you'd raised them with this knowledge from a young age, EVERYTHING could have been different. For God's sake, the whole book was premised on miscommunication. If the characters just TALKED TO EACH OTHER, the whole thing would never have happened.

This brings me on to Tane, the love interest who was boring as hell. Even his revenge story wasn't interesting. And their relationship was complete insta-love. They had known each other for a few days and suddenly they were both willing to die for each other. And Avery kept trying to convince herself with her "oh, Tane would never hurt me" while being in denial about her mother's story, and I just wanted to laugh. Even if there wasn't a bloody evil curse on him, even if the same thing hadn't happened with her mother and grandmother and every other Roe witch, where did she get the confidence to say that he would never hurt her? She'd known him two seconds, he could be a murderer for all she knew, it's not exactly hard to deceive someone.

Plot-wise, oh dear. Much like the rest of the book, little made sense. Apparently, pain activated magic. Really. So how did the first Roe witch know how to get magic? Was it an accident? Why don't all people who suffer pain get magic then? Why is it only Roe witches? What was special about the first Roe witch? Are there other witches out there who function in the same way? Are you just born with the ability for magic? There was so much confusion over Avery's powers as well; was she the Roe witch? Wasn't she? If she wasn't, how could she control the storm? Maybe by that point I was just in a bad mood and didn't read it properly, but I was confused. Honestly, not a lot actually happened, and I didn't really even care much about Avery trying to prevent her murder because I couldn't have cared less if she died. Or Tane died. Or anyone died. The only reason this is a 2 star review and not a 1 star review, is because I did like the world-building (well, the idea of the world as I wasn't a huge fan of the writing; a bit too descriptive and over-dramatic for me), and I liked the idea of someone dreaming about their own murder. Basically, I'm giving it a star for the potential it had. And also maybe because I really love the cover.

Overall, I didn't like this book. I don't recommend it. I do believe many other people really enjoyed this one, so if you do feel like giving it a chance, my advice is to borrow it from a friend or get it from the library first. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

The 100 (The Hundred #1) by Kass Morgan
Publisher: Hodder
Released: 29th August 2013
My Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.
(from Goodreads)

NOTE: So The 100 TV show has just come to the UK, and everyone who has been watching it in the US seems to love it! I read the book quite a while back but really didn't enjoy it much. I never posted my review for some reason, but as I'll probably give the programme a chance (it does seem more interesting than the book to be honest), I thought I'd post my review now, and then compare it to my thoughts of the TV show later on.

The 100 had an interesting premise but unfortunately, it failed in its execution. It was quite jumbled, I felt detached from most of the characters and it was painfully cheesy/cringeworthy at times. Plus, not a lot happened after the first few chapters, so sadly, it was not really an enjoyable read for me.

First of all, there were too many POVs, which meant that the characters didn't get enough development. Really there wasn't much difference between Clarke and Glass personality-wise, mostly only difference in circumstances. Wells was so underdeveloped he was just bland and Bellamy seemed to have only one mode, which was an obsessive need to protect his sister. The romance was even worse; I had no idea why these people liked each other and then there was this random attempt a love triangle that had no substance - the characters had known each other for like, a DAY. It was so insta-lovey. And they were so back and forth with the love interests - I get why the CW picked this up for a TV show, it definitely felt like an episode of The Vampire Diaries. They'll be able to rally up followers behind the different "teams". And another reason why I didn't like the romance was because of how cheesy/cringey it was. A few quotes to highlight it: "Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes bright with anticipation. She looked like a girl in love" and "Tearing herself away from Luke made her ache with an almost physical pain" and "No matter what happened, she thought, kissing him with an almost desperate need, she would never let anything keep them apart again" and "They were the only two people on Earth" - and there were loads more.

Plot-wise, the beginning started off okay and I was quite curious as to what would happen...but that curiosity didn't last for long. Pretty much nothing happened after that, except one thing towards the end. And there were so many flashbacks! Some were okay and informative, but half of it really was just irrelevant and made the story feel muddled. And a lot of things weren't explained - like exactly why they moved to space, why Glass was Confined (why was what she did illegal?) and a bunch of other things that I just lost interest in after a while. The ending was a twist which wasn't exactly original but at least made things more intriguing. I probably won't read the next book, but I might watch the show, as I feel things would translate better on screen.

Overall, The 100 was a disappointing read for me and in fact, I have had so little to say about it, I think this is my shortest review ever, barring my mini reviews.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #61

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

Half Wild (Half Life Trilogy #2) by Sally Green
March 25th 2015
Find it on Goodreads

After finally meeting his elusive father, Marcus, and receiving the three gifts that confirm him as a full adult witch, Nathan is still on the run. He needs to find his friend Gabriel and rescue Annalise, now a prisoner of the powerful Black witch Mercury. Most of all he needs to learn how to control his Gift – a strange, wild new power that threatens to overwhelm him.

Meanwhile, Soul O’Brien has seized control of the Council of White Witches and is expanding his war against Black witches into Europe. In response, an unprecedented alliance has formed between Black and White witches determined to resist him. Drawn into the rebellion by the enigmatic Black witch Van Dal, Nathan finds himself fighting alongside both old friends and old enemies. But can all the rebels be trusted, or is Nathan walking into a trap?
(from Goodreads)

I read Half Bad not too long ago and I really, really enjoyed it. So looking forward to seeing what happens in Half Wild! I am a bit concerned a lot of the book will focus on Annalise, who is not my favourite character. She's nice enough, but she doesn't have the same connection with Nathan that Gabriel does! I ship Nathan and Gabriel so hard and I don't care that it'll probably never happen. Though their friendship is awesome by itself as well. I'm also really curious to find out more about Marcus and I have a feeling he might show up briefly again. Why does March have to be so far away!

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, 7 July 2014

Review: Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Half a King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Released: July 3rd 2014
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

‘I swore an oath to be avenged on the killers of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.’

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

The deceived will become the deceiver.

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.

The betrayed will become the betrayer.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.

Will the usurped become the usurper?

But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, and traps and tragedy…
(from Goodreads)

I really enjoyed Half a King, and I'm already so excited for the next book. A brilliant fantasy that everyone should read.

Yarvi was a character who started off naive and a bit self-pitying but grew to be very cunning and clever and the kind of person you'd definitely rather have as a friend rather than an enemy. I really enjoyed reading about him and how he coped with each new and horrible situation he was thrown in. He had never thought of himself as much and was fixated on how having "half a hand" made him "half a king". But over the course of the book, his character really developed, and he became more accepting of himself and the fact that he would sometimes have to do things differently to get what he wanted, but that didn't necessarily make him less of a person. He used to be criticised for being too empathetic, and while that was true, I think Yarvi did occasionally have a ruthless streak as well. Not as much as his or uncle, or as Nothing, but he did show that he was willing to do what was necessary for the greater good. I liked that he had such a complex personality and that there were these many different sides to him; it made him a very interesting and fairly unpredictable character.

Yarvi, however, was not the only intriguing character. Practically every character in this book was great to read about. I won't be able to mention them all, so I'll just talk about the main few. Nothing was probably the most fascinating because he was just shrouded in mystery. A nameless man who spent twenty years as a slave and yet was a ruthless and battle-hard fighter who could cut down multiple opponents with any cheap, ordinary blade. Then there was Jaud, who was one of my favourites, because he was very strong but also very kind and was one of the first people to help Yarvi on the ship. Rulf made me laugh because he was the cynic of the group and was always complaining, and I could understand that; he'd had a hard life and didn't trust people easily. Sumael was a very skilled navigator; without her, everyone would probably be dead, and I really hope we get to learn more about her in book two. Ankran was a character I really didn't like to begin with but who grew on me once we got to know him better. The whole book was basically about how first impressions aren't always accurate and how you never know who will turn out to be your enemy or ally.

Plot-wise, Half a King did start off a little slow for me, but after the first few chapters, I became really absorbed in the story and could hardly put it down. The world-building was pretty good, especially the parts about the ancient elf ruins, but I do wish we were told more (though this is only the first book in the series, so hopefully we'll learn more in the next books). There were some great twists I didn't see coming, even though I suspected something was up, and throughout the whole book I had this ominous feeling that  I shouldn't get too attached to any characters because who knew what was about to happen next. I don't want to reveal too much of what happened, but I really liked the ending and can't wait to find out what happens next.

Overall, Half a King was a fantastic read and probably one of my favourite books of the year. I highly recommend it, especially to fantasy fans, and I'm really looking forward to reading Half a World next year.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Review: The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz

The Dark World (Dark World #1) by Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: May 27th 2014
My Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Paige Kelly is used to weird--in fact, she probably corners the market on weird, considering that her best friend, Dottie, has been dead since the 1950s. But when a fire demon attacks Paige in detention, she has to admit that things have gotten out of her league. Luckily, the cute new boy in school, Logan Bradley, is a practiced demon slayer-and he isn't fazed by Paige's propensity to chat with the dead. Suddenly, Paige is smack in the middle of a centuries-old battle between warlocks and demons, learning to fight with a magic sword so that she can defend herself. And if she makes one wrong move, she'll be pulled into the Dark World, an alternate version of our world that's overrun by demons-and she might never make it home. (from Goodreads)

The Dark World had an interesting premise but didn't live up to its potential, in my opinion. It wasn't terrible, but I think it could have been a lot better than it was.

Paige was an okay main character, but there was nothing that really made me invested in her. She could have failed miserably or succeeded miraculously and I wouldn't have really cared much either way. Everyone thought of Paige as the "crazy girl" because they couldn't see that the wall she was talking to was actually a ghost. She was isolated and even her own family (especially her dad) tiptoed around her, so she must have had a lot of strength to deal with that. Her ability to see and talk to ghosts was interesting but somewhat confusing. She was a Traveller that could travel to the Dark World and that was why she was somehow able to see, hear and speak to ghosts who resided there, but then Logan was able to see, hear and speak to ghosts as well, so why didn't that make him a Traveller too? Considering that Paige only got her powers because she saved some kid from getting hit by a car, flatlined, and then came back, shouldn't there be a whole host of Travellers bopping around? A lot of people have "died" and come back. Why was Paige the only one with these newfound powers? Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention but the whole thing just confused me and I feel like Paige didn't ask nearly enough questions after finding out about her ability. I did enjoy her friendship with Dottie, a ghost who died in the 50s who was hilarious and fun, and they had some funny scenes together in the first half of the book, but then Dottie's presence slowly died out in the second half and she was barely in it anymore, which was a real shame.

Logan was kind of the stereotypical protector "I must save you at any cost!" type and I didn't have any particular feelings towards him. He was just...there. Sometimes too much. Once he and Paige became more friendly, that was when Dottie started to fade out of the picture, so that sucked. And certain things he said just got to me. Like when he was talking about how he punched some guy for talking crap about Paige and then told the rest of the group to speak about women respectfully because "every girl is important to someone". I just had an issue with that because it was clearly meant to be some grand gesture but it shouldn't be "every girl is important to someone", it should be "every girl is IMPORTANT" and "every girl IS someone". The reason you shouldn't treat women like objects isn't because someone else (aka their manly boyfriend -_-) cares about them, it's because they are in fact human beings and deserve respect for that fact alone. Logan did seem like a nice guy in general to be fair to him, and not without some funny moments. He'd had a hard life and was devoted to fighting demons. However, that's why I found his relationship with Paige to be a bit unbelievable. After spending a few weeks with this girl who he didn't really know very well, he was suddenly willing to give up his life's ambition to stay with her. It was just...ack. They literally barely knew each other, which was CLEARLY made obvious when a certain secret was revealed and a certain person's trust was (temporarily, because of course this was an everlasting love -_-) broken. It was just kind of insta-lovey; even though they were actually friends first, as soon as they started a proper relationship, it became all "let me die for you, my love!" and ugh. Paige actually referred to Logan as "my love". Multiple times. Seriously. No teenager says "my love" about anyone unless they are in a play, or are very, very drunk.

Plot-wise, the beginning was a little cliché and there was a lot of info-dumping, but Dottie made up for a lot of that. Then she all but disappeared, and the latter half was more romance/cheesfest based though there were some interesting action scenes as well. One thing towards the end concerning the closing of a portal confused me, because if the portal was able to open with a blood donation, it should be able to close with that too so what happened was just weird and unnecessary I didn't get it at all. There was a kind of a cliffhanger which I'm sure would have made me want to read the next book had I been more invested in this one.

Overall, I didn't really enjoy The Dark World. I didn't hate it but it wasn't what I wanted it to be. The romance which started off okay turned into some cheesy I'll catch a grenade for you lovefest and there was too little explanation on the world and how everything worked. If you do still want to read this book, I recommend borrowing it from a library first.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #60

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

The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan
October 7th 2014
Find it on Goodreads

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them, and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake. The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it might be able to stop a war between the two camps. The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over. (from Goodreads)

So. I did a stupid thing. I adored the Percy Jackson series, but I was a little bit scared to start Heroes of Olympus just in case it ruined everything. I had basically been collecting these books since book one was released, and I had the first three sitting on my bookshelf, unread. Up until December 2013, when I decided instead of doing coursework, it was time for me to catch up on this series instead. Why. Why did I do that. I had waited over three years to start this series, why couldn't I just wait one more? WHAT WOULD ONE MORE YEAR HAVE BEEN? Why oh why did I start it, become addicted, buy House of Hades on Kindle even though I knew I was getting it as a Christmas present because I just couldn't wait that long and then be forced to wait SO LONG until the release of The Blood of Olympus. I've been waiting in agony since December. I need it. I'm so terrified my favourite characters will suffer/die. They can't, I won't be able to stand it. And Nico! He is one of my favourites, I am so happy he's getting his own POV in this book. Ugh, I'M JUST SO EXCITED. I hope we see Bob again too.

What are you waiting on this week?