Monday, 22 June 2020

Review: Aurora Burning

Aurora Burning 
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.

And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.

Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well. 

Aurora Rising was a nice little surprise for me, I'd been sent an ARC by the publisher and even though Sci-Fi isn't my usual thing I fancied picking it up and giving it a shot. I ended up really enjoying myself reading it and highly anticipating the sequel, Aurora Burning. In fact I was kind of procrastinating from reading Aurora Burning because I was so excited for it and knew I'd binge through it in no time! 

Aurora Burning follows much the same kind of formula as the first book. There's a nice action packed opening before the whole Kuzco 'yeah that's me' kind of thing like I mentioned in my review of Aurora Rising. I do love how it's addressed and acknowledged in the narrative so I'll give it a pass for being kind of, exactly the same. There's also the multiple POV's, the slices of information on the world although from what I could tell a lot of them were the same as from the previous book but don't quote me on that because I'm not 100% sure as I didn't have time for a re-read! I just got that eery sense that I'd already read them. The humour and snark of the previous book is also present in abundance throughout Aurora Burning, as is the action scenes, fast pace and slight ridiculousness that sometimes pops up. 

However, this time around I feel like we get a lot more emotion than there was in the previous book, to go with the new characters that we're introduced to and we finally get some more background and insight into the characters. Zila in particular was much appreciated by me as I kind of always forgot she was there in the previous book and I felt like out of all the characters we got to know her the least. With the absence of one character, Zila certainly takes the spotlight a lot more in this book. Not only do we come to understand her thanks to a very cleverly written chapter, but she also has a lot more to do in this book! Before she kind of felt like an additional crew member to bulk out numbers and I couldn't quite figure out what her purpose was so I was excited to see her take on more of a role and learn more about her. It was also nice to see her relaxing and becoming more comfortable with the others! 

As you'd expect from the cover of Aurora Burning, our cover man Kal takes more of a focus in this book. I felt like we saw a lot less of Tyler than we did in the previous book and all eyes were on Kal as we went deeper into his character's background and there were some brilliant twists with him that I usually figured out about 2 seconds before the reveal! I also loved getting a deeper look at the Syldrathi and the split between them with the Unbroken opposing pretty much everyone. 

Aurora Burning picks up smoothly from where we left off with a burst of action to pull you in as we get to grips with the current situation our crew have found themselves in. Once again, I liked that we didn't hang around and jumped straight into things. Quickly being introduced to the 8476343 problems they have to face. One of which is new character Saedii who's badass, a little bit scary and yet still kind of awesome. 

I have to say, Finian further cemented his place as my favourite character in this entire series! I love he and his narrative and I loved getting to see one of my ships develop further in this book. I feel like Finian had more depth in this book, as did Scarlett actually! The two of them really remind me of my Teen Wolf OTP Stydia! Speaking of OTP's, I feel like Saedii and Tyler are going to become a thing next book and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. I've been holding out hope for Cat and that hope hasn't entirely died so I'm not sure if I can get behind Tyler X Saedii. 

I have to say, Kal was my biggest disappointment in this book. He was super intriguing in the first book with his 'enemy within' and that internal struggle and then we get plenty more intriguing information about him in this book...but somehow he ended up just being relegated to being the love interest. He stopped being a character all of his own and really just became like one entity with Aurora and I felt like the entire point of him this book was to be Aurora's love interest. It was really disappointing and I felt like his potential was never really explored which made the ending all the more frustrating. 

On the subject of Aurora and Kal, I never fully got on board with their romance in the first book, it seemed very insta-love and didn't have much depth to it but I figured it would be expanded upon in this book. However, there's a little plot device in this book that allows months to pass for the two of them in the blink of an eye and I was side-eyeing it immensely. It sped up the romance but I still didn't fully buy it because we didn't get to see a lot of it and it seemed like it was there to make things more wrenching and emotional towards the end but it just...fell a little flat to be honest. 

There are still some plot twists that are pulled out to surprise you that leave you gasping and ramp up towards the end fantastically. I also particularly thought that the final chapter was clever as we snap quickly between POVs and it added to the building rhythm of the finale, keeping you speeding towards the end and amping up the tension before the absolutely horrific cliffhanger ending. Was that really necessary!? 

I can't say whether I enjoyed this more than Aurora Rising, I think I might have enjoyed the previous book a little bit more. Aurora Burning is much like Aurora Rising in that it isn't entirely perfect, there are a few things that niggled at me, but it was still a fast and enjoyable read that you could have fun reading! I look forward to having that cliffhanger resolved in the next book and I'm once again, probably foolishly, holding out hope for a certain character! Although I think I've now finally lost hope for Cat.  

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Manga: Noragami 21

Noragami Vol 21 
Rating: 5/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Yato is a homeless god. He doesn't even have a shrine, let alone any worshippers! So, to achieve his ambitious goals, he's set up a service to help those in need (for a small fee of course). He hopes that one day he'll be able to build the temple he feels he deserves, but for now he can't be picky about the jobs that he chooses to accept. From finding lost kittens to overcoming school bullies, Yato is divinely intervening all over the place! 

While Yukine is busy harbouring the stray who promptly disappears, Hyori is getting used to regular life without he and Yato. Speaking of Yato, he's gone off with Kazuma to train and hunt Ayakashi although it soon becomes clear that the two of them really need to work on getting more in sync with each other. Yukine needs to hunt down the stray but while doing so he ends up encountering Yato's father whom we all know and hate, and as soon as he said that there's a way out of Yomi my first thought was, 'here we go. What could possibly go wrong with this knowledge?'. 

Yato's father provides plenty of interesting information in this volume. There's a glimpse of how he came to be and some ominous notes when he mentions the stray's death which kind of has me curious, because there's clearly some history there. However, there's quite a development when it comes to Yukine as he starts to wonder how he died and it definitely provides a sense of impending doom when paired with everything we learn this volume. 

This volume largely spends its time building up for the next showdown and adding in a few little plot twists with Yukine and then with Hiyori and her lifeline, while also having Yato and Kazuma preparing for the next step. The Gods are all plotting together to help Yukine and go after the Crafter although the mention of 'God hunting' is ominous and had me on edge. Much as I love and feel for Yukine, I'm back in the 'wanting to shake him' place. 

Volume 21 is another solid volume, moving the plot along and keeping the readers interest through to the end. While serving to continue to set up and move the characters where they need to be for coming volumes and events, it also provides more intrigue and ends on a super ominous note that leaves you desperate for the next volume! 

Friday, 19 June 2020

Review: Bone Crier's Moon

Bone Crier's Moon
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Borrow 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Bone ​Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

Bone Crier's Moon has been one of my anticipated reads for a while so I was eager to dive in, unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my expectations and often fell a little bit flat. While the world was intriguing and I was incredibly fascinated by the Bone Crier's and the lore surrounding them, the negatives outweigh the positives for me. 

I'll start off this review with what I did like about this book. As I said, the world is intriguing and so is the lore that surrounds the Bone Crier's, I actually thought it was quite original. I was excited to dive in and learn more about them and how everything worked. The opening of the book was misty and evocative and the atmosphere for the book was very well done throughout and was, in my opinion, one of the best parts of the book. It was atmospheric throughout and it was this atmosphere that helped pull you into the book and bring the settings to life. It just added a little extra something to the scenes and provided certain feelings depending on the scene and location. I was really able to get a strong feel for the aesthetic of the book as I was reading which I particularly enjoyed. 

There's some nicely placed ominous hints throughout the book about what's really going on with one of the characters and serves to provide a sense of intrigue to keep you reading. However, I think the biggest plus about this book is how badass all of the female characters are. They're strong, they can take care of their selves and they aren't afraid to fight back when they need to. Even Sabine who doesn't really enjoy violence all that much! Each of the Bone Crier's really had each other's backs and I loved the strong, deep female friendship depicted between Sabine and Ailesse though I would have loved to see a bit more of it! I'm a sucker for strong female friendships in books and this one certainly provided! 

However, there was quite a bit about this book that let it down for me and made me rate it three stars. While I did love the world and was intrigued by it, I felt like the world building was really lacking. There was enough detail for the magic system and so on, and the lore of the Bone Crier's, but when it came to the actual world and setting a feel like it wasn't followed through on enough. I assume it's a French inspired fantasy world judging from some of the words that were used, and there's the catacombs that are built from bones, but other than that I don't really have much of a feel or picture of the place. The Bone Crier's, the catacombs and the small area that Bastien inhabits are all expounded upon to a decent extent in most cases but other than that small corner there's not much known about the world. Some royalty are then thrown in at the end with not much detail. There's also a mention of some distant war but that's about it and we don't see much of the world. So much is poured into the mythology and magic system that I feel like the world building fell to the side a little. 

The same could be said for the characters and their backstory. They seem quite two dimensional and flat and all we really know about them are their basic motivators. Revenge, completing a ritual and rescuing a friend, there's not really that much more to them than that. In fact I wasn't even aware that Ailesse was the main character when I started reading, I thought it was Sabine and I think I might have actually preferred Sabine as the MC because I did feel like out of all of the characters, we got to know her the most and see her develop unlike the others. 

I also really wasn't feeling the romance, I have to be honest. It was straight up insta-love and I really wasn't a fan of it. All signs seemed to point towards Bastien and his female BFF who's name escapes me, but all of a sudden he's in love with Ailesse and I didn't...really...see why? All I gleaned from the book was that it was 'just because'. So I really didn't enjoy the romance, there was no chemistry between the two and it felt really lacklustre and then to make it even worse another guy is thrown in right at the end and's insta-love. Hell, he hasn't even met her and he's falling all over himself because of her and I'm not entirely sure how a love triangle full of insta-love is going to pan out in the next book because I'm not particularly rooting for either couple. Honestly I was expecting a really intense/deep romance and this was...not it. 

After the initial excitement over the world and the mythology, my interest waned pretty quickly. While it does have a fast start and a fast pace, I just ended up not being that hooked? To the point I could quite easily skim read to get through it. The insta-love had my attention straying but also the very repetitive plot. Ailesse is constantly running away and getting caught and then running away again over and over, while Sabine is looking for her and there's shady goings on. There's huge time skips that I honestly didn't feel worked because the plot still went nowhere? And I would have  preferred to spend more time with Sabine as she developed and had to do the one thing she didn't really enjoy all to save her friend instead of reading the same sequence of events over and over. I ended up being pretty bored, and once I'd finished the book and was reflecting on it I realised that not a lot really happened, honestly. Which brings me to my next point.... 

For the majority of the book not a lot happens, as I said, and it's super repetitive but in what felt like the eleventh hour there was a plot twist that literally came out of nowhere. There were no hints to it or anything, at least not that I detected, and it really seemed like it was thrown in for shock value or to add something to make people keep reading and anticipate the next book. It really didn't seem to have the most solid basis to me, which wasn't helped by the lack of world building to be honest. 

Despite a promising start and premise, Bone Crier's Moon ultimately ended up falling for flat for me and being more than a little bit disappointing. Perhaps my expectations were too high as I know a lot of people actually really loved this book, but for me there were too many negatives and aspects that I wasn't too big a fan of! I haven't quite decided if I'll check out the sequel to see how it all ends or not yet! 

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Review: The Stars We Steal

The Stars We Steal 
Rating: 3/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin? 

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

I really enjoyed Brightly Burning; Donne's sci-fi retelling of Jane Eyre, and I was excited to see what she was going to do next...well here it is! The Stars We Steal is another sci-fi retelling, this one being a retelling of Persuasion which I'm fairly sure I did get around to reading back in the day but I'm not entirely sure! 

The Stars We Steal launches right in with the reappearance of Elliot and we quickly get to grips with Leo and her situation as well as the way things stand in the world of the book. That being that Earth is frozen and everyone is up in space waiting for it to thaw. While there's no time wasted at the beginning of the book as the story starts straight away, the book continues to be fast paced throughout as well as fun, easy to read and very easy to get lost in. 

I liked Leo well enough. She admits her faults, I guess which is pretty much the only things I have to say about her. I did love Evgenia, however, perhaps more than I liked Leo and I would have liked to have seen a lot more of her but she wasn't our main character so. Carina was also pretty unlikeable as a character BUT my opinion of her did change as the book went on and I actually ended up quite liking her. The sisterly bond she had with Leo was enjoyable too and they had a couple of sweet moments. As for our love interest Elliot, I felt that we didn't really spend that much time with him and I don't really have a lot to say about him. 

There is lots of representation which is a point in favour of the book. The world building was solid enough for the book and I enjoyed the setting and the world that was created though we didn't go into too much depth. Although I did feel that sometimes there was a bit too much telling rather than showing throughout. 

My biggest issue with the book would be the ending though. It threw me a little because I was expecting to see everything play out but instead we had the epilogue and then time jumped two weeks on from the explosive reveals which left me feeling quite disappointed and very unsatisfied all in all. Which is a shame because despite its flaws I did enjoy this book, the ending just let it down more than anything else. 

Was it perfect? No. I wasn't too attached to the characters and don't have a lot to say about them. But it was easy to read, fun to an extent and it kept my attention with the easy to read writing style. In fact I easily binged 200 pages of this in one day. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Review: House of Earth and Blood

House of Earth and Blood 
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Borrow 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

I debated whether or not to write and publish this review, but I was encouraged to do so and now that I have the we are. I'm going to start with the positives before heading into negative territory...

I was actually very excited for House of Earth and Blood, I felt like Maas was more than ready to jump in to the world of adult fiction as sometimes reading the ACOTAR trilogy in particular I felt it would have been better as an adult series. I was most excited for a fresh new world and characters and to see what Maas would do. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect as I didn't read the synopsis before jumping in to this and had only heard tidbits about it here and there. 

As such, the urban fantasy setting and the gallery immediately caught my attention. I'm not going to lie, I had been expecting a fantasy setting like her other two series. I was immediately intrigued by multiple different aspects to the world, the Houses, the magical creatures and angels occupying the world and so on, and I was more than ready to dive in to the book and get to grips with it all. Helped by the fact that along with an interesting world, we're also immediately introduced to a host of interesting characters. 

Our main character Bryce was brilliantly snarky though she was very similar to both Aelin and Feyre in regards to that and a few other aspects. Bryce has been through quite a lot and I liked that she was portrayed in that way. There's no attempts to cover up the emotional scars that she has, or sugar coat anything. Bryce's ways of coping with her trauma aren't sugar coated either and I appreciated that honesty and genuineness in her character and she has some wonderful character development throughout the book. Danika I particularly loved as a character, I was so intrigued by her role and the Pack of Devils and I really liked her and her entire attitude. Not to mention her bond with Bryce! I loved the way Maas depicted the female friendship between the two of them, it's always brilliant to see a nicely written, strong female friendship. Jesiba was intriguing but still somewhat of a mystery as was Fury our possible assassin, Juniper the ballet faun and Lehabah the fire sprite! They were an intriguing bunch though some remain more of a mystery than others so I'm excited to get to know them better in the future and tease out more of their pasts. 

Hunt is our main male character and when he was first introduced I did toy with the idea of him being the love interest but shrugged it off because I thought it was someone else until the plot twist threw that out of the window! Just call me Boo Boo the Fool. Hunt reminded me a lot of Rhys with the whole darkness and skulls thing that he had going on. I did enjoy the romance between the two, Hunt's secretly soft side was cute and I liked the route their relationship took and watching it develop over the course of the book. 

I also have to mention Ruhn, Bryce's brother and the leader of the fae Aux division. Bryce might dislike him but I loved him completely! He's like an emo/rocker Legolas but with black hair and tattoos! He also has a very strong similarity to King Arthur with his sword and I can kind of sense a novella coming with that tale. I particularly loved his friends Declan and Flynn and I think the three of them made the book for me! 

As we start the book, we immediately get to grips with the world, with tidbits being thrown out from the beginning. Humans are ruled over by the Vanir and above them is the Asteri and they aren't exactly happy about it so there's some tensions. There's also a missing fae relic which obviously plays a part throughout the book. The thing is, as much as I enjoyed all of this, not much really happens within the first 50 pages but Maas's writing is so easy to read that you can breeze through it all getting acclimated to the world and the characters and the host of different supernatural creatures present in this world. 

There's then a pretty big plot twist within the first 100 pages of the book that left me shook. I should have seen it coming, and perhaps if I'd read the synopsis I wouldn't have been quite so blindsided by it. While I initially hadn't been quite sure what to expect from the book, as I'd started to read I had started to form a few expectations as well as some theories...that plot twist completely threw it all out of the window and I once again had no clue what to expect from this book. It has to be said that there are quite a few excellent plot twists and bomb drops throughout the book that are all very well timed! In fact the surprising time skip helps to keep the story moving forward and allowed for a better place for the story to truly begin. 

House of Earth and Blood is mostly told from Bryce's POV, but the changes to Ruhn, Isaiah and Hunt are smoothly handled. I loved the murder mystery aspect (though it reached a point when it was so slow and meandering that it got a little bit boring and seemed to be forgotten at some points) and the tension between Bryce and Hunt. There are plenty of interesting hints of the past dropped throughout the book so you can try and piece everything together while providing plenty of intrigue. As I mentioned, there are some impressive plot twists to keep you on your toes and the ending was quite spectacular and not entirely how I figured things would go! I also have to say I'm heavily intrigued by Aidas. 

However, there were also quite a few negatives to this book for me as well. I did enjoy certain parts of it like I mentioned, but there was a lot I didn't enjoy quite so much and that me rolling my eyes. The repeated use of descriptions like 'caramel eyes' which was used at least 3 times in the first 6 pages alone, for instance. I also got pretty tired of hearing about Bryce's skin tight dresses and perfect ass over and over, I really didn't see the need for such repeated descriptions throughout and of course pretty much all of the male characters fancied her. Let's also talk about her use of the word 'alpha-hole' which reached a point when it had me physically cringing every time I had to read it or the different variations of it. I'm still baffled as to how she's going to throw around the word 'alpha-hole' when her love interest is the definition of an alpha male, albeit it one with a tragic past and let's be honest she's pretty much known for her alpha male characters. 

As I mentioned, Bryce largely reminds me of Aelin and Feyre while Hunt, Isaiah and the rest of his crew were very reminiscent of Rhys's gang. The incident with Connor and Danika lowkey reminded me of Throne of Glass and then there was Hunt. He reminded me of Rhys so badly. Black hair? Check. All dark and shadows? Check. Misunderstood? Check probably. Has a power that no-one else does? Check. He's even referred to as 'the shadow of death' at one point and I'm fairly sure Rhys has been called that. His backstory is very, very much like a combination of Rhys and Rowan's as well. Similarities between characters like personalities and looks I could overlook, but so much seemed to be pulled from the other two series. 

While I enjoyed the world and was intrigued by it (it's got a few Norse Mythology references going on), I took issue with the fact that everything was laid out for us. There's a war and tension between the humans and the Vanir but...we don't really see that. It's mentioned and Bryce is treated badly a few times because of what she is, but we don't really see any of this war that's going on. I can only assume we might venture out of Crescent City and see more of the world...and this war, in the next book. I had also expected to see more of the whole 'humans being oppressed' thing but it was mostly just Bryce getting crap from people. My point is, it was very hard to see the Vanir as the bad guys when they're either a love interest or described as being ridiculously good looking...and we see none of what they do that's so bad other than Sandriel, I guess. 

ALSO the book is called HOUSE of Earth and Blood and the Houses are mentioned so very briefly at the beginning but that's it? They're just there and considering the books title I figured the Houses would have a bigger part to play than they actually did but apparently not? Unless it comes into play more later. I was just quite excited about them when they were first mentioned and was expecting there to be lots to do with them and for them to play a way bigger role than they actually did but it was like they got forgotten about and were just another thing thrown in there. 

Can we also talk about the swearing? I'm in no position to say anything because I use the f-word as an adjective at this stage in my life but half the time the swearing just seemed like a kid cursing because they can to try and be edgy. The use of violence seemed much the same way considering a character I LOVED was killed off before I could really get to know or care about them. Granted it created an interesting plot twist but I can only assume there's going to be a prequel novella or series. 

My biggest issue with this book is this is an entirely new series with an entirely new, urban fantasy setting and new characters but it's impossible to ignore how similar it is to Maas's other series. Hunt's backstory is an amalgamation of Rhys and Rowan and Bryce is made up of Aelin and Feyre though I think I liked her a lot better than both in the end. There's once again wings and Legions and so on and it's hard to shake the feeling that Maas took the things most popular and that she perceived as the most well done in both ToG and ACOTAR and mixed them together to create this book. It got to the point when buddy reading with my coworker that I had to say to her, 'look, is it me or is this reaaaaaaaally similar to the other series?'. 

There were also some parts that I found just plain ridiculous, like the My Little Pony horse thing (though to be fair it did make me laugh with its ridiculousness so points I guess?), and the long, drawn out villain speech. Her trying to run away also vividly reminded me of that scene in Jurassic Park when the injured woman is trying to run away from the Velociraptors. Let alone the whole thing when Bryce shot the guy, cut him half and then burned him....right before she hoovered him up. I'm sorry but I seriously lost it at that part and could no longer take the scene seriously at all. There's a few other things that I won't get into, some things that were overdone or excessive though to be expected now that Maas has free reign. 

My final criticism of this though? While initially nothing happened for those first 50 pages I assumed once we'd gotten past that point things would improve. However, this could definitely have been a couple of hundred pages shorter than it was and I reached a point when I had to sit and go back over just what exactly had happened in the book so far...and it was surprisingly little. While the final part of the book was took hundreds of pages of mediocrity to get there. When I say this could have been a couple hundred pages shorted I'm talking 300-400 at least, it was far too drawn out by useless scenes that had no bearing on the story. While I enjoyed learning about the world and the tidbits, at points it seemed like we'd been dropped in midway through a series. There's so much randomly thrown in here, and so much that should have been told as we went along rather than dropped in chunks. 

House of Earth and Blood is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I had been looking forward to it and I did enjoy the history and lore of the world as well as a few of the characters and the emphasis on friendship. Bryce's pain and trauma and how it was handled and her character growth were also excellently done as was the development of the romance and the intrigue throughout. The final part of the book really pulled it back for me but I also can't ignore the negatives. There were plenty of them and it was hard to take this book seriously in a couple of places. The most glaring issue being that this could have been much shorter and much of it appeared to be made up of her other two series. I am intrigued and will most likely pick up the second book to see just what happens next because I am curious and quite intrigued by Aidas and Maas's sequels are usually on point. However, I think my expectations for this series have been seriously lowered. I had been expecting this series to be better than both of her previous series but found myself faced with a fair few disappointments when it came to the quality. 

House of Earth and Blood is an adult fantasy but it's not one to be taken too seriously. Aside from Bryce's trauma I found it to be quite light and the writing quite simple. 

Monday, 18 May 2020

Manga: In/Spectre 11

In/Spectre Vol 11
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

Both touched by spirits called yokai, Kotoko and Kuro have gained unique superhuman powers. But to gain her powers Kotoko has given up an eye and a leg, and Kuro's personal life is a shambles. So when Kotoko suggests they team up to deal with renegades from the spirit world, Kuro doesn't have many other choices, but Kotoko might just have a few ulterior motives. 

Volume 11 picks up from where we left off with the murder mystery in the process of being solved. On the surface, things seem to go quite amicably as an agreement is reached but there's too much of the volume left for it to be quite that simple as we soon find out! Volume 11 see's us dive into the nitty gritty of everyone's motivations and the skeletons lurking in their closets. 

This volume is nice and chunky, and there are a lot of solutions presented throughout the volume as is usual when it comes to this series. The trick is figuring out the right one and seemingly, the right one is easy to pick out...until a plot twist throws it right out of the window. 

Volume 11 see's the conclusion of a brilliantly done, twisty mystery that has you intrigued until the final page as you try to figure out who's lying and what really happened. I was fully engrossed into the volume and I could appreciate how it connected to the whole Rikka situation that we still have going on. I'm sure w're being smoothly driven towards the next encounter with her and it'll be interesting to see how it plays out! 

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