Monday, 21 September 2015

Review: All That Glitters by Holly Smale

All That Glitters (Geek Girl #4) by Holly Smale
Publisher: HarperCollin's Children's Books
Released: February 26th 2015
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads/Amazon

"My name is Harriet Manners, and I am still a geek." The fourth book in the award-winning GEEK GIRL series. Harriet Manners has high hopes for the new school year: she's a Sixth Former now, and things are going to be different. But with Nat busy falling in love at college and Toby preoccupied with a Top Secret project, Harriet soon discovers that's not necessarily a good thing... (from Goodreads)

All That Glitters was another enjoyable addition to the Geek Girl series and I’m looking forward to picking up book five! I do have to admit this book was probably my least favourite so far - but it was still fun and definitely worth the read.

Harriet was the same old Harriet, but this time I felt like her naivety went a bit too far. Some parts of this book just seemed unrealistic in how dense Harriet was being - I don’t think anyone could actually be that oblivious! This happened on several occasions - to give one example, how could she think “stars” meant the actual stars? It was clear by the the context and the questions people were asking that that wasn’t what they were talking about but somehow Harriet managed to block out common sense. I felt sorry for her at times, but I also felt like it was a bit ridiculous that someone could be this naive. But I did get it, and I understood how she felt, and how much she wanted to start fresh at this new school - making friends is very difficult when you’re an awkward person (don’t I know it!) and Harriet couldn’t help her awkwardness. Even though sometimes she was a bit self-absorbed (while Jasper at the start of this book was way too rude and being overly mean, he was actually partially right), Harriet was a very caring person and she stuck to her values, even if it was hard sometimes. She also saw the best in people (even when she really, obviously shouldn’t have), so it was clear she was a nice person who was just not very good at talking to new people. I just wish she would face reality a bit more, sometimes.

I think Nat and Toby’s plan in this book was a bit dumb, and they clearly didn’t think it through, but they were at least trying to help. I’ve always liked Nat, she stuck by Harriet and always defended her. Toby…well Toby was Toby. A bit strange, but ultimately, you can’t help but end up curious about him. I actually wish these two were in the book a bit more, but oh well. And Nick! Oh Nick. He wasn’t in this book, besides in letters and flashbacks. I did miss him a lot. I don’t know if he’ll turn up in the next book (I hope so!) and now with Jasper thrown into the mix (who I do also like), who knows what’s going to happen.

Plot-wise, a lot of this book depended on Harriet misunderstanding things when there was little to actually misunderstand, so I can’t say I loved those parts. But there were loads of things I did really enjoy - the modelling stuff especially! When Harriet Manners was mistaken for Hannah Manners and she ended up on that shoot doing a ton of weird stuff - oh, it was hilarious! I loved finding out more about modelling, and I was glad to know that Harriet had missed it. I don’t think she’ll be modelling for life, but I think Harriet does enjoy modelling, no matter what she says, and I hope she gets to enjoy it while she can!

Overall, All That Glitters was a good read, and I’m really excited to find out what will happen to Harriet next! Series recommended to contemp fans looking for something a bit different.

Friday, 18 September 2015

My Little Box September 2015 Review

This month's box was another great one! It took a while for my box to get to me (after supposedly being shipped on the 2nd of September, it took over two weeks for it to arrive) but it was worth the wait in the end! September's box is titled the "My Little Fashion Box" - here are my thoughts! (And, as always, apologies for the terrible photos.)

I really like the design of this month's box! It's done a great job of shifting from a summery vibe to something more autumnal. My favourite of the illustrated girls on the front of the box is the third from the right, wearing glasses and a messy bun. I could never pull that style off, but I love it!

My thoughts on each individual product:

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluid - I'll admit, I had no idea what this was when I first saw it! According to the description card, it's a "miracle cream especially designed for intolerant-prone skin". Well that's perfect for me, because I definitely have intolerant skin. I applied this product to my face and neck as directed (and my eye contour area too, which it is also suitable for!) and I have to say, it really is soothing. It is a bit greasy when you first apply it and I'm not a huge fan of how it feels on my face, but if it soothes and helps get rid of irritation, then it's worth it. I have some irritation just above my jawline at the moment, and while I can't yet say it's going away, the cream definitely made the skin there feel better and less itchy. It's also pretty hydrating (though not the best hydrating product I've ever used) - I applied it to my under-eye area, which is very, very dry, and it feels quite smooth at the moment! So overall, I'm pretty impressed! 

My Little Beauty Red Dingue Lip Colour - this is a lip cream that's basically like a matte liquid lipstick. It's a very pigmented raspberry red colour, which I tried on thinking it wouldn't suit me at all, but actually doesn't look too bad and I might wear it when I'm feeling bold (so, not that often, but still, it's a nice product to add to the collection). I like that one coat is enough, and that it lasts for quite a long time without reapplying. It is a little drying however, so I would have to wear lots of lipbalm before applying this, and maybe add some on top if it's possible to without smudging the colour. And the packaging - the packaging! It's so cute! Those mini polka dots just get to me.

Kératese Couture Styling Laque Noire - I've been really getting into hair products recently, so I was very pleased to see a hair product in the box! The formula of this fixing spray is especially designed to combat against humidity - which, once again, is perfect for me, because I'm actually going on holiday soon and was wondering what I should use on my hair in the humid conditions! I tried it out at home and while it smells lovely, I didn't notice too much of a difference in frizz levels (though my hair was down and I was just at home, so it's not really an accurate test of how good it is). I will take it on holiday with me though to see how it fares in a hotter, more humid climate!

Cointreau Cocktail Kit - what an unexpected item! I don't actually drink, so this will probably be enjoyed by a family member, but I think this is actually kind of cool. The mini bottle is really cute and the little booklet of cocktail recipes comes with a number of different and interesting ideas! I'm not sure how My Little Box is determining who gets the cocktail kit though - what about subscribers who are under 18? Can you subscribe if you're under 18? I forgot whether they asked me my birthday...

Alfa-K Adhesive Nail Decals - I have sort of a love hate relationship with nail decals. I love the idea of them, and would love to wear them (these ones are so pretty!) but I am so rubbish at putting them on. It always goes wrong, ALWAYS. I am determined to try again and get it right this time, but we shall see how it goes...

American Vintage and My Little Box Scarf - I got the blue scarf! Definitely love it, it's so soft, the pattern is very pretty and it will go with a lot of different outfits. I also love the box the scarf came in, 1) because the image on the front is really cool - the cut out bit that shows what the scarf looks like also acts as the scarf the illustrated woman is wearing, and 2) because the back of the box has three different ways to wear the scarf, which I thought was very creative! I have seen the black design of the scarf that other people have received in their boxes and I really do love that one too, but I'm happy with what I've got. 

That's my review of this month's box! What did you think? Did you prefer any other beauty boxes over this one for September?

Friday, 11 September 2015

Review: Madame Tussaud's Apprentice by Kathleen Benner Duble

Madame Tussaud's Apprentice by Kathleen Benner Duble
Publisher: Alma Books
Released: July 15th 2015
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

In 1789, with the starving French people on the brink of revolution, orphaned Celie Rosseau, an amazing artist and a very clever thief, runs wild with her protector, Algernon, trying to join the idealistic freedom fighters of Paris. But when she is caught stealing from none other than the king's brother and the lady from the waxworks, Celie must use her drawing talent to buy her own freedom or die for her crimes. Forced to work for Madame Tussaud inside the opulent walls that surround Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Celie is shocked to find that the very people she imagined to be monsters actually treat her with kindness. But the thunder of revolution still rolls outside the gates, and Celie is torn between the cause of the poor and the safety of the rich. When the moment of truth arrives, will she turn on Madame Tussaud or betray the boy she loves? From the hidden garrets of the starving poor to the jeweled halls of Versailles, "Madame Tussaud's Apprentice" is a sweeping story of danger, intrigue, and young love, set against one of the most dramatic moments in history. (from Goodreads)

Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice was an interesting read and I liked the way the fictional story and real events were weaved together.

I have to admit, I don’t know a lot about the French Revolution, but the author’s note at the end of the book was very informative and gave insight into a lot of what happened in the book. I did a bit of Wiki-ing after finishing the book, and it’s clear that the author toned down things a bit and changed up some stuff to make things easier to read. I was fine with this, but I imagine it might bother you a little if you’re a real history buff. In general though, the book gives you a very basic overview of of what happened during the French Revolution, which is enough to help understand the story (and will perhaps inspire you to some of your own research afterwards).

Célie was a thief living on the streets, and had no-one but Algernon, the boy who saved her when she was dying in a ditch. She had a hard life; her whole family was dead, she was just about managing to survive herself, and she was angry with the rich people who lived in luxury while the majority of people were starving and unable to feed their families. She stole from the rich, or scammed them, and she and Algernon tried their best to hold on to their beliefs about equality. I liked Célie, though I did think she could be very naive at times. Apart from that, she was a good character to follow. She had trouble in situations where she was expected to act proper and like there was nothing wrong, when people were dying needlessly every day. She also didn’t compromise her beliefs, even when it led to conflict with Algernon, the person she loved the most at the start of the book. I really enjoyed seeing Célie’s relationship with Manon (Madame Tussaud) develop and how they grew to care for each other. It was nice to see a bond like that, and Manon was probably one of my favourite characters in the book. She did what she had to survive, and she didn’t sugarcoat things. At the same time, she took care of Célie when she didn’t have to, and helped her more than she needed at the start, even before they had gotten to know each other. I also quite liked Manon’s uncle - her whole family, actually. They were a nice unit and obviously cared a lot for each other.

I really struggled to like Algernon. Even at the start of the book, he was just eh. I didn’t warm to him, and I wasn’t really invested in the romance, so I didn’t really care whenever Célie was expressing how much she loved Algernon but couldn’t be with him. It was okay though, because there were a lot of other interesting scenes that made up for my lack of interest in the romance.

The writing was a little choppy at the start but got better as the book went on - I think it was just the opening chapters that were introducing the story. Plot-wise, it was insightful to see the Revolution through Célie’s eyes. I would have maybe liked a bit more detail in places but I can understand that things had to be omitted to made the book more readable and not too long. The ending wrapped things up nicely and left off in a place where you knew what would happen next (and more was explained in the author’s note, which was nice). 

Overall, I enjoyed Madame Tussaud’s Apprentice. It wasn’t as action-packed as I was expecting, and there were a lot of “a few weeks later”s instead of descriptions of events, but it was worth the read and would likely be enjoyed to those interested in Madame Tussaud or the French Revolution, or history in general.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Review: The Secret Fire by C. J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld

The Secret Fire (The Alchemist Chronicles #1) by C. J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld
Publisher: Atom
Released: September 10th 2015
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

French teen Sacha Winters can't die. He can throw himself off a roof, be stabbed, even shot, and he will always survive. Until the day when history and ancient enmities dictate that he must die. Worse still, his death will trigger something awful. Something deadly. And that day is closing in.

Taylor Montclair is a normal English girl, hanging out with her friends and studying for exams, until she starts shorting out the lights with her brain. She’s also the only person on earth who can save Sacha.

There’s only one problem: the two of them have never met. They live hundreds of miles apart and powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

They have eight weeks to find each other.

Will they survive long enough to save the world?
(from Goodreads)

While I enjoyed The Secret Fire as a whole, and finished it pretty much in one sitting, I had a few problems with it. Some parts just seemed a bit underdeveloped, or lacking in research, to me - but all in all, it was a very readable and engrossing book.

It took me a while to warm up to Taylor. She was currently at school doing her A-levels, and was a perfect model student, and it was a little bit too much at times. She was sort of overbearing with her perfect student persona, to the point where the lengths she’d go to for a good grade were just unrealistic. It was also here that you could tell there was a lack of research. I won’t go into too much detail since this really is a minor problem, but basically, it was implied that extra-curricular activities such as the online tutoring Taylor had agreed to were something you could be graded on and something that would count towards your final A-level grade. This isn’t true, and no teacher would be able to dock marks just because Taylor didn’t fancy volunteering for something completely unrelated to her exams or coursework. I understand that the schooling system is more like this in the US and that participation in things counts for marks, but in England, nope. The only things (for A-levels) you are ever marked on are exams and coursework. Nothing else counts. Furthermore, Taylor was also writing essays for another student, which I found very unbelievable of someone as studious as Taylor, who valued her education so much. If those essays were actual graded essays (e.g. coursework essays), Taylor’s actions would be cheating, and it would be grounds for disqualification across all exam boards. I don’t think someone like Taylor would ever risk that, even for a really good friend.

Taylor did grow on me though. Once she and Sacha started talking and she realised something really strange was going on, I started to like her more. She began to understand that her life was in danger, and suddenly, stuff like getting into Oxford and achieving perfect grades didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. She wanted to help Sacha, and help herself, and was willing to break  the rules (something she would never previously consider) to do so. 

I mostly preferred Sacha’s chapters, though I wish we could have seen more of the French setting! I did really enjoy what was explored though. Sacha started off a bit rude towards Taylor, which didn’t endear him to me, but I guess I could understand, since he was going to drop dead in a few weeks and probably didn’t care much about manners. I did find it sort of funny that the only reason he even started to pay attention to Taylor was because of a message her friend sent him, pretending to be her, but I did enjoy seeing them get to know each other. I also enjoyed seeing the scams Sacha was pulling using his ability (of not being able to die) - it was risky business but I got what drove him to it. The romance was cutesy, but happened a bit too fast for my liking. I was already rolling my eyes at Taylor’s proclamation that Paris had “changed her” (in one day) and Sacha’s dedication to Taylor after knowing her a short while, but it could have been worse. There were no cheesy declarations of “I’d die for you, my love!”, which I greatly appreciated, so I was happy for the most part.

In terms of the more minor characters, I was very intrigued by Taylor’s grandfather and what he was up to. He knew a lot more than he was willing to share and I wondered what his true intentions were. We did find out a little in this book, but I have a feeling more will be explored later, which I’m looking forward to. I also really liked Louisa! She helped Taylor a little later on in the book with a certain problem of hers, and she was definitely one of my favourite characters. I would love to know more about her; she seemed to have an interesting backstory, so I really hope we get to see more of her in book two and delve into her past!

Plot-wise, it took a while for things to pick up, but I was engrossed for the most part. I predicted certain things (e.g. Taylor’s connection to Sacha) but I was very interested to see how it might be possible to keep Sacha alive past his eighteenth birthday. I do want to find out what happens next (I was really happy this book didn’t end in a cliffhanger, because waiting for sequels is always agony) and so I’ll probably pick up book two. The alchemy parts were really interesting and I also enjoyed the training scenes in this book, and hope to see some more of those in the sequel! As well as more of Paris, or any other parts of France.

Overall, I didn’t love The Secret Fire, but it was a decent start to a new series, and I think will appeal to a lot of younger teens, or to people who love the starcrossed lovers thing! 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #73

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

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure
January 14th 2016
Find it on Goodreads

How is it that you suddenly notice a person? How is it that one day Digby was my best friend's admittedly cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?

Lucille has bigger problems than falling for her best friend's unavailable brother. Her mom has gone, leaving her to look after her sister, Wren. With bills mounting up and appearances to keep, Lucille is raging against her life but holding it together - just.

A stunning debut to devour in one sitting, Laure captures completely the agony and ecstasy of first love.
(from Goodreads)

I am sort of fussy about the contemps I read, but I really love the sound of This Raging Light. From the early reviews, it seems like it's going to be an emotional rollercoaster with amazing characters and so I'm looking forward to reading it. I do get the feeling it's going to be one of those open-ended books though, where not everything is resolved. I'm not usually a huge fan of that type of ending, but since I really do love the synopsis, I'm going to give this book a go anyway. Also, I used to much prefer the US cover (which you can view on Goodreads, it's the more colourful one) and while it still probably is my favourite, the UK one has definitely grown on me.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Review: Demon Road by Derek Landy

Demon Road (Demon Road #1) by Derek Landy
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Released: August 27th 2015
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Buy it on Amazon/Book Depository

Full of Landy’s trademark wit, action and razor sharp dialogue, DEMON ROAD kicks off with a shocking opener and never lets up the pace in an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers: they’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in...Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves.

Forced to go on the run, she hurtles from one threat to another, revealing a tapestry of terror woven into the very fabric of her life. Her only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be…
(from Goodreads)

I was really excited about Demon Road as I absolutely adored Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series. Overall, while I didn’t love it quite as much as Skulduggery Pleasant (though it’s only the first books, so there’s still time!), I really enjoyed Demon Road and will definitely be continuing the series.

Amber thought she was a normal girl until the day she was attacked by two guys outside her workplace. After sprouting horns, red skin and claws, she bit the finger off of one her attackers and mauled his face. The other guy ran away. Unsurprisingly, Amber was wondering what the effing hell was happening to her. Cue her parents attempting to kill her, a surprise betrayal and a random guy named Milo announcing that he would be driving her out of town and protecting her from her parents and their friends - for a fee, of course. I don’t blame Amber for being angry and frustrated, because everything she’d ever know about herself and her parents turned out to be wrong, and now she was forced to go on the run because her own flesh and blood were trying to murder her! She didn’t take it very well, and she certainly did trust Milo at the start of the book. I liked Amber quite a lot because she wasn’t all composed and certain about what to do. She was shaken up from what had happened to her, she had no idea where her life was going, she was forced to rely on the help of random strangers, and she was selfish - which I think was pretty realistic, because if this had happened to most people, the number one thing they would be concerned about would be themselves. I do wish at times she would maybe have listened to people more, like Milo, because it was obvious he knew what he was on about, and it was sad to see Amber still have hope in her parents when she really, really shouldn’t have (they were literally the WORST). And while she was battling this darker side of herself (some parts of this book were fairly creepy/gory, so beware if you don’t like that sort of thing), she did try to show compassion when she could. By the end, she had become a bit more sure of herself, and that scene with the Shining Demon? Loved it! I also loved Amber’s frankness with Glen; the weird friendship between them was really funny.

Speaking of Glen, he was an odd sort, wasn’t he? He was definitely a complete idiot, but the loveable kind that grows on you. He did not stop talking, and he was reckless and completely fascinated by things that would be best left alone, but you could tell he was a decent person and he ended up helping Amber and Milo out in unexpected ways. The way he seemed shocked by obvious things just made me laugh, and some of the stuff he came out with…ah. He was like the bumbling comic relief. I am definitely intrigued to find out what exactly happened to him because I don’t believe what Amber thinks happened is the thing that actually happened. I have a theory, and we shall see if I am right in book two (it is possible I am entirely wrong, Derek Landy is kind of unpredictable).

Milo was…mysterious. I mean, dear old Glen guessed a lot about his origins, so I wasn’t too surprised by that, but he was mysterious in other ways too. He was very closed off - not the type to talk about his emotions. He was unhealthily attached to his car, and you could never tell what he was thinking. He seemed to go beyond what he was paid to do for Amber, which tells me he did care about her more than he let on in the book. It was reminiscent of Skulduggery and Valkyrie - though Milo’s sense of humour was a lot dryer. He was a bit less jovial, and a bit more serious. I am very intrigued to find out more about him in book two.

Plot-wise, a looot happened that I did not expect. I mean, I was surprised by the opening pages, so I already knew this was going to be a good book. There was also more death than I expected, and a lot more creepy stuff, but I ended up really enjoying it. I especially loved all the parts involving anything demon related. Whether it was Amber’s demon form, or the Shining Demon, or just a story someone was telling, it was all great stuff. Really can’t wait to find out more about the demons in book two. It will be interesting to see how Amber adjusts to everything she’s learnt, as well as see how she copes with dealing with the aftermath of what happened at the end.

Overall, Derek Landy has once again impressed me with his work, and I am really looking forward to book two. Recommended to Skulduggery Pleasant fans or anyone who likes paranormal/urban fantasy with demons abound.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas *contains spoilers*

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Released: September 1st 2015
My Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past...

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonising crescendo that might just shatter her world.
(from Goodreads)

NOTE: This review contains spoilers. LOTS of spoilers, for this book, and the other books in the series. You have been warned.

Okay, I have been trying to figure out how to write this review for a few days now, and I’ve just accepted that I can’t do a proper one. So, prepare for a long and incoherent mess of thoughts and feelings and questions, because sadly, I still have a book hangover and a proper review is just not going to happen.

Aelin has grown so much throughout this series. In this book, she was so changed from the girl she was in Throne of Glass. She was, as she put it, her own champion, and she was willing to do what was necessary for her court and her kingdom. She wasn’t hiding anymore, or afraid of who she was. She was Aelin, and the persona of Celaena Sardothien, which had for so long been her shield, was gone. I just…I loved reading about her. She had struggled so much, but finally things were coming together. She knew what she had to do. And I was proud of her! For being herself, for accepting the things she had done in the past, for looking forward. 

Chaol at the beginning of this book was being a complete idiot. Like seriously, wtf, Chaol. He was so judgmental and bleurgh, what the hell was his problem. Also, I really liked Nesryn as a character, she was super awesome, but I didn’t really care about the Chaol/Nesryn romance. Chaol definitely got less idiotic as the book went on and I wish him all the best in future books, but yeah. Sorry Chaol. It’s not you, it’s me? (It’s actually you, though. But thanks for being heroic and stuff at the end. I tip my hat to you.)

At the start, I still wasn’t a massive fan of Manon’s POV, but she actually really grew on me in this book, and I especially loved the scenes between her and Elide (it took me a while to remember who Elide was, but omg, so awesome. Definitely interesting to learn about her past/bloodline, and I liked that Manon cared about her; even if it was teeniest slither of care, she did care. I really want Elide to meet Aelin in book five, which considering what happened, is a possibility, so yaaay). I also LOVED the part where Manon and Aelin met. That entire scene, where Aelin saved her life, was exactly what I wanted! And Manon giving them the warning afterwards! I want them to be friends. Or at least work together in some way. Manon and Aelin would make the best fighting team ever, I can see it now. Please, book five, please. Give us Manon and Aelin scenes. Also, more Dorian and Manon scenes, because while I didn’t see it coming at all, I am totally behind this ship. I liked Sorscha and everything, but Dorian and Manon would be fantastic. 

Speaking of Dorian, he spent most of his time in this book being possessed by a Valg - until Manon came along. And he managed to finally talk with his own voice. Manon was the reason he was freed, why Aelin tried to save him instead of kill him. Manon warned them that Dorian was still inside and oh, Dorian. He was so sad at the end of this book. His dad was dead (the scene with the KING, WTF WTF HOW DID I NOT PREDICT THAT) and Sorscha was gone and he had to take over as King and magic was free and he was really powerful (why was Dorian so extraordinarily powerful though? Hope that’s explored in book five) and he just had so much to deal with. I’m glad he and Aelin still got along, though. He needed her help right then, and for her to be his friend.

Can we talk about Lysandra? Because I adored her. I was so happy that Aelin got to have another female friend, and Lysandra was just freaking amazing (Nesryn was great too, but Aelin wasn’t as close to her as Lysandra, though maybe that will change in book five). She was so funny! And she didn’t put up with crap, and she didn’t sugar coat stuff and she was so strong for staying with Arobynn and plotting against him all that time, after what he did. She risked her life to help Aelin, and I am so, so glad she got to be the one to kill Arobynn in the end (she deserved to be the one to do it, after all she had suffered). And erm, she was Fae too? The ghost leopard scene. Perfection. All in all, she was an awesome friend and I love how close she and Aelin became in the end. I so want her to be happy and be free to raise Evangeline and finally do what she wants for a change. 

Aedion grew on me in this book as well. I liked him in Heir of Fire, don’t get me wrong, but it was so fun to see him actually interact with Aelin. The familial bond between them was so great to read about. And initially Aedion was really upset that Rowan had taken the blood oath, but in the end, he accepted it. He grew close to Rowan, looked up to him, and they became friends who protected Aelin, but who also protected each other - which I loved. Also, his dad was Gavriel?! THE CONNECTIONS. EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED. Gavriel and Aedion need to meet. I need to see that. I HAVE TO SEE THAT HAPPEN.

And at last, we get to Rowan. Rowan. He cut his hair! I liked the long hair, but I liked the shorter hair too. And the cuteness. The Rowaelin scenes. THE NIGHTGOWN SCENE. I died. The actual grin on my face, you should have seen it. And Rowan not fitting into Sam’s old clothes and not wanting to ruin the top so he didn’t even try wearing it and just gave it back to Aelin and omg. And his hatred of Arobynn and his determination to get rid of Lorcan (was the eff was Lorcan really up to?) and the fact that he turned up when Aelin needed him and that whole reunion scene was the best thing ever and ugh. And their little conversations in their heads - at Arobynn’s when they were just grinning at each other like lovestruck idiots, and oh my heart couldn’t even take it because it was so adorable, and the way they joked with each other and protected each other and teased each other and omg I am so behind this ship it’s ridiculous, I don’t think I’ve ever shipped anyone this much. And going to Sam’s grave together and it was so sad but then the gold nightgown and the dragon dress and Aelin wearing Rowan’s shirts to sleep and Rowan trying to ignore his thoughts and Rowan’s LINES. “I don’t want an audience…” HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO REACT TO THAT, SARAH? WHY DON’T I HAVE BOOK FIVE IN MY HANDS RIGHT NOW? And the bit where they finally, FINALLY kissed and Aedion walked in to say something and Rowan just used magic to slam the door in his face and it was brilliant and hilarious because Aedion was shipping it too, you could totally tell. And everything Lysandra (and Nesryn. And even Chaol) ever said about Rowan because it was all so funny and just Rowan. And Aelin. Together. And the bit at the very end, where they were going back to Terrasen - Aelin was finally going home. Ahh. I want the next book. I want to see Aelin with her court, being Queen, making decisions and working with Dorian to take down Maeve (I knew that ring wasn’t just for sentimental value) and whoever else needs to be taken down. I want more Aelin and Rowan (“to whatever end”) and more Aedion and Lysandra and Dorian and Nesryn and Chaol and everyone else. I WANT BOOK FIVE. 

The only, I mean ONLY, reason this isn’t five stars is the same reason Heir of Fire wasn’t - I have real trouble with multiple POVs. I tend to always prefer one over the others, and a lot of the time, I was waiting to get back to Aelin (or Rowan). Also, I have super high standards when it comes to this series. I think if I DIDN’T love it so much, I’d give it five stars. Which I know probably makes no sense but it does in my head. I ummed and ahhed so much over the rating. I reread Heir of Fire before this and contemplated changing my rating to five stars, and making this five stars too. I do love the characters and plot so much, more than in other books I have actually rated five stars. But there’s something stopping me! Who knows, in the future, maybe I will do it. 

Ahem. Yeah. Thanks for reading this mess. If you haven’t read this book, I don’t really understand why you’re reading this spoilerific review, but hey, I don’t judge. I like spoilers a lot of the time too. But read this book. And if you haven’t started this series, START IT NOW. And if you HAVE started it but have only read Throne of Glass, pick up the series again, because I do understand. ToG is in my opinion the weakest book of the series. I think Heir of Fire is still my favourite but Queen of Shadows was so good as well that I’m torn. They’re on par, definitely. And QoS had so much going on. And Lysandra, and Rowaelin. But HoF was the start of Rowan and Aelin. Their first meeting. And their training. And their friendship. AND OMG IT’S SO HARD TO DECIDE, these books are so good. Please just read them. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Review: Adventure Time - The Original Cartoon Title Cards (Vol 2), Seasons 3 & 4

Adventure Time - The Original Cartoon Title Cards (Vol 2), Seasons 3 & 4 by Pendleton Ward
Publisher: Titan Books
Released: August 7th 2015
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Adventure Time’s adorably weird and wonderful post-apocalyptic world has captured the hearts of fans worldwide.

Featuring all the title cards from seasons 3 and 4 of the show, plus early sketches, creator commentary, and exclusive insights into the vast and varied inspirations behind the art, the second volume of
Adventure Time - The Original Cartoon Title Cards is an absolute must-have for every fan. (from Goodreads)

So I’m a huge fan of Adventure Time and was very excited to be able to review this book. I have to admit, before reading this, I never really paid attention to the title cards of each episode while watching the show, but I definitely will now!

It was really interesting to see the work and thought that went into each title card. A lot more effort was required to create them than I expected, and the title cards themselves actually had a lot more meaning than just introducing each episode. Many of them hinted at what happened in each episode, in really subtle ways that you wouldn’t notice until you thought about it a bit more. However, others were intentionally misleading, which I thought was really cool. The creators would have an idea of what they would want you to think was going to happen, while really, something else entirely would occur that you completely didn’t expect. I really liked that and will definitely be studying the title cards a lot more thoroughly when season 7 starts airing, while keeping in mind they’re not always as they seem.

As well as that, the amount of detail in some of these title cards was amazing. There were so many intricate little things that just added to the whole picture to make everything more eye-catching. It was great to see how things changed from the original sketches to the full colour versions that were shown with the episodes. Colour can make so much difference, and I learnt from this book that typography is definitely important as well as the actual images, and can change the way things look overall instantly.

I loved seeing what inspired each title card as well. The creators were inspired from many different sources like Hitchcock movies, or film noir. One of my favourites ones was the title card of season 3, episode 5 (“Too Young”), which was inspired by romance novel covers - it worked so well and gave off the exact intended vibe. I liked seeing which title cards were a bit more difficult to design as well - for example, the creator for the title card of the episode “Still” originally had a bit of trouble coming up with an idea to portray stillness, before eventually settling on Finn and Jake as statutes in the background.

Overall, I found this book a really great look at the behind the scenes aspects of Adventure Time. It was really fun to study the title cards in a bit more depth and learn about how they were created, as well as find out why they were so important in introducing and setting the tone of the episodes. It also enabled me to relive some of my favourite episodes, and I’m really excited for the new season to start now. Highly recommended to Adventure Time fans.