Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicles #2) by Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: 7th September 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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Mia Corvere, destroyer of empires, has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry do not believe she has earned it.

Her position is precarious, and she’s still no closer to exacting revenge for the brutal death of her family. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it is announced that Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself into slavery for a chance to fulfill the promise she made on the day she lost everything.

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Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold, secrets are revealed and the body count rises within the collegium walls, Mia will be forced to choose between her loyalties and her revenge.

WELL SHIT HAS CERTAINLY HIT THE FAN HASN’T IT LADS?

Falling in love with Nevernight was such a surprise for me. I hadn’t heard of it, was given an ARC, and fell head over heels with the language, concept, the setting, and just everything about it. I still can’t decide whether to call it YA or not, and whether it would be insulting to assume that this is not for adults just because of the violence, swearing and sexual scenes (like come on, young adults watch Game of Thrones, it’s not like they’re new to it), but at the same time, I can never find these books in the YA sections of bookstores, so the marketing is different, who knows.

But I’ve always shied away from adult fantasy because of some of the content; primarily male writers who can’t or won’t write female characters, with plots that are all just Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones regurgitated en masse. And while Nevernight and it’s sequel, Godsgrave, don’t have the most unique plot you’ve ever heard of, I am still enthralled by the twists and turns that this series has, and what it will do to keep you on your toes.

It’s getting better and better too, I cannot wait to stick this on lists of fantasy reads you SHOULD be reading this year and talking about it lots all over my social medias. If you love foul mouthed, bloody thirsty anti-heroines who possess the magic of shadows and will stop at nothing for revenge against the death of her family, including competing in one of the deadliest fighting matches in the country, then look no further than Mia Corvere.

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Wintersong by S. Jae Jones

Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: February 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world. 

I think I bought this book because I knew exactly what to expect.

IMG_20170716_174959_683I had imagined, when reading the blurb and reading a few reviews, that it would be very similar to that age old tale of a maiden being tricked into being captured by a scary but handsome, supernatural being. You know, Sarah J. Maas-esque. I had previously read and enjoyed A Court of Mist and Fury, but after deciding not continue with the third installment, there was a hole missing in my TBR.

Another book I absolutely adored was Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and reading Wintersong gave me so many Uprooted vibes that I quickly nabbed it from Waterstones, cutting short my pathetically executed book buying ban.

Wintersong is, first and foremost, gorgeous.

A large part of the story is about music, and how it has raised, supported, and empowered main character Liesl. It’s described so beautifully that you can almost hear it. Along with the setting, it’s one of the best things about the book, and even though I had to google what ‘klavier’ was (it’s German for ‘piano’), I pictured Liesl and her brother making beautiful music together and working hard towards Liesl’s brother’s musical career.

The setting is also stunning, but maybe I’m biased because I love Bavaria. I’ve been to Southern Germany twice now, and every time I’m there, I can think about romantic stories set in the quiet, quintessentially German villages that populate in between mountains and gathered around castles. So reading Wintersong was a right treat for my mind when it’s on holiday.

The only downside was the ending, which took far too long to execute and became a little confusing. The set up and middle sections, where we’re introduced to life in Liesl’s village and the folklore that’s been a part of it, gripped me to read on. The introduction of The Goblin King and Liesl’s time Underground also made sense and set us up for something great and maybe even action packed, but beyond that, there were a lot of sleeping scenes, Liesl being stuck in her room, and then a few conversations with The Goblin King. The ending became a little convoluted and confusing that I am still thinking about what happened and not being too sure. The was not even a sizzle, never mind a bang.

A fun tale weaved from magic and music but still missing the fourth and final leg.

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Our Dark Duet By Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 13th June 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own. 

So now I’m sad that another V.E. Schwab series is over.

In the space of 3 months, two endings to two very popular series were released, and while I devoured them both in a matter of hours, I had forgotten that once I’d finished them, THAT WAS IT.

Our Dark Duet is the sequel to This Savage Song, about a monster boy who dreams of being human, and a human girl with the fate of becoming monstrous. While the feel of the setting and themes may seem familiar to very genre-specific stories, this series is dripping with that Schwab passion that makes it so much more special than just an apocalyptic monster-book.

I love Schwab’s female characters, and Kate Harker is no exception. I read somewhere that Schwab likes to make her female characters Slytherin’s and my gosh, as a Slytherin, does that make my heart sing. Kate is fearless but also afraid, 100% done but also 100% willing to fight for what is right (or at least her version of right), an icy character with soft gooey centre…somewhere in there.

I love August too. Schwab has a knack for writing what I like to call ‘Hufflepuff Boys’; they’re loving, will do anything for their family, and they ARE the soft gooey centre! While the warring parts of the cities have closed in however, August has changed; he’s closed off, with-holding, and jumps at the chance to fight. I liked his character development – war changes a person, but obviously I love him for who he is which is a soft monster with a knack for playing the violin.

A thrilling end to another V.E. Schwab starred series!

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A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 28th February 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise. Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive? Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible. And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

I always find it a lot harder to review books I adored as opposed to books I hated.

It’s harder because what do I say that doesn’t sound like I’m being a mushy, soppy loved up reader? With negative reviews I can be cold and professional, almost academic sounding with my shade, but when it comes to love, how can you turn it into a review?

Let’s talk about the series as a whole rather than this book itself, to avoid spoilers.

tumblr_omlwvhTmhw1u04fedo1_540I’ve fallen in love with the Shades of Magic series. I fall in love often but maybe not this hard, and especially not with a high fantasy series. High fantasy can often come across as samey and stereotypical, often missing great opportunities to do something different as this is a genre where the possibilities are endless. You are literally creating a world with the power of your brain and language, and yet so many books are filled with cliches and things you’ve seen before. Things that, though may seem relatable and familiar to our world, still aren’t what makes a story in high fantasy so imaginative and immersing.

But Shades of Magic has always been about spreading your imagination far and wide; different Londons, folded over one another like the pages of a book, in universes that are similar but also not, hiding secrets and magic and evil. Already, you’re handed that and you know already that this series is not like the others.

But then you get the characters who aren’t stock, aren’t just what would expect in a high fantasy novel. They’re all lovable, even the villains, even the side characters who still have enough agency and personality to be someone you can actually picture rather than just an extra. But obviously, the main characters; Kell and Lila Bard are funny, witty and you can feel comfortable going on this cut throat journey with them as they make it through multiple Londons, learning different languages, and becoming accustomed to different cultures.

And of course, A Conjuring of Light was the bittersweet ending that I wanted but also didn’t want, because it meant never waiting to see what happens next. This series has all my praise, and I guarantee you will love it too.

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 21st January 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆
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Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful and cruel father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Continue reading “Caraval by Stephanie Garber”

The Rose Society by Marie Lu (The Young Elites #2)

Publisher: Speak
Release Date: October 2015
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Plot: Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

img_20170106_181937_268I DID IT.

After 2 months of struggling to finish a book due to my mental health, and thus meaning I lost 2016’s reading challenge by about 3 books, I finally finished a book in just a matter of days, and it was a great one too!

So, Adelina is a villain, there’s no question; she manipulates, taunts, consumes fear and enjoys hurting others. But I still root for her in every way. She is so believable when it comes to painting the good guys as bad, as wanting to hurt her; sometimes you have to remember that she is the villain and that, in the same way as she is manipulating the other characters around her, she is also manipulating you, in a sense.

I still found, like The Young Elites, the plot to not really stand out from many other fantasies. There were wars and duelling kingdoms and handsome, charming thieves. I still thoroughly enjoyed those aspects despite reading about them before (because if you don’t like those themes, you’re probably not going to enjoy high fantasy), but, after looking at other reviews, I guess I was expecting something a little more remarkable.

I’ll still be reading The Midnight Star, and I can’t wait to read about Adelina burning everything to the ground.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: September 2016
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Plot: Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world. 

I don’t know why I put off writing this review for a while.

Oh wait. YES I DO. BECAUSE THEN IT WOULD MEAN ADMITTING IT IS THE END.

Quite frankly, I could read many books that just narrated each member of The Dregs’ daily lives. I love each of them in a major but different way, and I would honestly not mind reading spin offs of each character. At first, when I read Six of Crows, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t get on bored with the multiple narratives. I’m a writer, and I’ve found I can only write two perspectives in a story because after two, I’m confusing myself.

But no, each narrative was woven together perfectly to create a full blown story sweater that just fit in all the right places.

Almost all the story takes place in Ketterdamn, which I loved considering we only got a glimpse of it in Six of Crows after the gang go on a voyage heist, leaving Ketterdamn to our imaginations. But in Crooked Kingdom, it feels like you are running along the canals and cobbled streets with your favourite street rats (and I mean street rats in the most affectionate way possible).

You get a shit ton of back story, and because this is the last book in the series, I can understand why. But honestly, each character is so lovable and deadly that I was ready for the pages upon pages of it. I felt that CK was much more character driven than SoC, which was more ‘heist fun adventure story’, and while it sounds like I’m comparing the two (because they are so very different), the story flows well from one to the next, despite the different ways in which each story is told.

Look, if you read SoC and you didn’t think it was the best, then fine. But honestly, you’re not giving up on a 7 book business. There’s one book left, you might as well read it and see how these babies are doing post-heist, and hopefully, whatever apprehension you feel about this series will change.

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