Friday, 29 January 2016

Review: Star Wars The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Set years after Return of the Jedi, this stunning action-packed adventure rockets us back into the world of Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2,and Luke Skywalker, while introducing a host of exciting new characters. Darth Vader may have been redeemed and the Emperor vanquished, but peace can be fleeting, and evil does not easily relent. Yet the simple belief in good can still empower ordinary individuals to rise and meet the greatest challenges.

So return to that galaxy far, far away, and prepare yourself for what happens when the Force awakens. . .

Okay so I'm not going to expand on the synopsis from GoodReads because I don't want to spoil it because some people may still have not seen it and ya know...just spoilers in general! 

So, I completely love Star Wars, I'm a Star Wars nerd, I got to see the movie on Christmas Eve and I was so excited to read the book and get to re-live the movie, I mean I could practically hear the opening theme music as I was reading the beginning! But then I sing the opening titles to the tune of the theme song soooo.....

ANYWAY. There's a few scenes that I don't remember being in the film, that where nice additions and helped to expand on the movie a bit more. There where scenes that where extended from what I remember of the movie, and a few changes here or there. Because of all of this, you get a lot better understanding of what's going through the characters heads in the movie, what their motivations are, what the history of the places featured are and so on. You also learn more about the situation with the New Republic and what went wrong and the problems with it and how the New Order rose up. 

I thought the book translated perfectly from the book in that it retained it's cinematic values. If that makes sense, like I've read book versions of films that where so dull and boring, but this was very cinematic, even if you haven't seen the film I would think it would be easy to picture the scenes and the settings and get a feel for the places. The beginning did go on for a while, and all of the bits at the end did feel a little bit rushed in comparison, so I think the book could have been longer, or the beginning cut down perhaps, but other than that I really enjoyed it and getting to go back to the movie! 

There where so many bits in the book that I wished had been in the film, but then the film probably would have been like a million hours long, but then....would any of us really care? Nope not really! The dialogue was great, the action scenes translated well on to the page, you got a feel for the characters, especially Kylo Ren! It also helps you to spawn even  more theories! I just loved reading the movie, as it where, because it added so much more insight! I mean BB-8...I loved BB-8 in the movie but you actually get to understand him a bit more! It's definitely worth a read whether you've read the books or not guys! 

I can't believe I've never read a Star Wars book before! 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

2016 Classics Challenge: January

Hey guys! 
The month is nearly over, I've read my classic for the month and it's time to tell you guys aaaalll about it! I wasn't quite sure how to do this, but I'm thinking I'll do it this way, I'll answer the questions here, and then in my videos I'll tell you what I thought of the book! That way the video's aren't really long and there's less of me babbling!
This month's video had some technical difficulties, so there's no actual sign off because I didn't realise it hadn't gotten that bit, so sorry  guys! It's not me being rude! 

ANYWAY, let's get started! 

So this month I picked Pride and Prejudice to read, in case it's not already obvious or known! I actually had a lot to say about it and had a fair few notes, but that's all in the video that I'll link down below! 

1. When did I discover this classic? 

I've been trying to think back to the exact point when I discovered this classic but I really am struggling! We never did any Austen books in school it was Jane Eyre and a lot of Shakespeare with some Of Mice and Men thrown in! I think around about some time when I was in Secondary School, is the answer! It's kind of hard not to discover Pride and Prejudice to be honest with all the adaptions of it floating about and all the merchandise to go with it, especially on Tumblr! I already knew about it but Tumblr just made me more and more interested in it! 

2. Why I chose to read it. 

Easy. Everyone raves about it and it's one of the classics that I consider to be one of the big, main classics along with Wuthering Heights and Little Women and so on. Not to mention the bits of the film that I had seen intrigued me and I had a feeling I'd like the book because ya know...romance. It's also technically historical these days as well! I've been wanting to read it for ages to be honest, I've not read that many Classics on my own just Dracula and Secret Garden and a couple of others, and seeing as P&P is a main classic, I'm kind of ashamed I haven't read it! I also have loads of different editions of it, because I can't resist pretty books, and I collect certain editions and my logic is that ya know...I'm gonna read it eventually, and I know I'm going to love it so why not?! 

3.  What makes it a classic? 

I'm probably the last person who should be saying what makes a classic a classic seeing as I haven't read any! I mean, the fact people are still reading it and loving it makes it a classic I guess? Although I think the correct answer is the language of the book, and the romance. Also the setting, a lot of readers love this particular period of time, and it's a romance set in that time. It's a good romance and it's a great glimpse in to the time period and what things where like. I really suck at answering these questions! 

4. Will it stay a classic? 

I can't really say, things are always changing. I would think that it would because people are still just as interested in it whether it's in book form or film form. I've seen a lot of teenagers on Tumblr who love the book as well so it's not just older generations loving the book either! I think all the film adaptions that are out there will also help it to stay a classic, because you know...a lot of the time people are more likely to watch a book adaption, and a lot of the time someone might watch an adaption and then go and read the book! Not that like..just watching the adaption is a bad thing, it's also keeping P&P as a classic! I think people will always be interested in the time period, it's one that people romanticise a lot and it being a book written at the time, it's authentic in it's language. I think there's something about the language and the etiquette of the time and how things where that interest people, and that people enjoy. 

I'm going in to essay territory here! But I also think that the romance is one that can stand the test of time, not to mention the characters! Elizabeth and Darcy are classic characters and you often find characters in modern day books that have aspects of them, or are very, very like them! Everyone loves a romance though, let's be honest! 

5. Who would I recommend it to? 

For a start, I'd recommend it to people who read a lot, like nothing against people that don't read all that much, but the writing and the language is such that I don't think a casual reader would get on with it, or they would struggle. BUT then on the flip might get a casual reader reading more. So there's that. I'd definitely recommend it to Teens and up, because I think more teens should read the classics. I mean....I regret never picking up all that many classics. I didn't read classics when I was a teen, Dracula and stuff I read when I was younger, I actually got given a copy of Anne of Green Gables by a teacher in primary. But when you're at school reading classics is always a chore a lot of the time, I was lucky because I actually liked Jane Eyre and Of Mice and Men, but being forced to read the set ones at school can put people off, so I think teens should just pick a classic they like the sound of and give it a go! It's great for the vocabulary as well! This sounds really preachy, my bad! 

So there you have it! I kinda feel like I'm doing an English Essay and I such at academic things like that so it's rambly and probably all wrong but I tried! I'll do better for February I promise! 

Speaking of February classic is going to be *drum roll* Wuthering Heights! 
I'm assuming most people guessed seeing as it was my second choice for January, I was hoping to actually read Sense and Sensibility in January because I fancied it after seeing some of the film, but I didn't have time! I have this feeling like I'm going to end up binge reading classics at some point! But yes....Feb's book is Wuthering Heights! No idea what to read for March (which is my birthday month yaaaay!) so any suggestions are welcome! I'll probably do a Twitter people because I suck at being decisive! 

Let me know what your classic for the month was as well hitting me with your suggestions! Check out what I thought of the book in the video below! 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Wishing For Wednesday #75

It's Wednesdaaaaaayyyy! 
First up is the sequel to a book I recently discovered! I'm so intrigued by the first book and I've heard such good things, so I'm going to be picking it up and I thought I'd share the sequel with you seeing as it's out soon, and you guys might be intrigued too! 
Second is a book by an author I haven't read before. Although I do actually have a couple of her books sitting on my shelves that I need to get around to reading! ANYWAY! It sounds really interesting and fun, and I'm excited to get to read it! 

Kingdom of Ashes

Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss, Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale. But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

Kingdom of Ashes is out February 23rd, pre-order your
Add it to your



Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

Firstlife is out February 23rd, pre-order your
Add it to your

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Review: For The Most Beautiful

For The Most Beautiful 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy Courtesy of the publisher, Transworld!

Three thousand years ago a war took place that gave birth to legends - to Achilles, the greatest of the Greeks, and Hector, prince of Troy. It was a war that made - and destroyed - both men, a war that shook the very foundations of the world. But what if there was more to this epic conflict? What if there was another, hidden tale of the Trojan War that had yet to be told?

Now is that time - time for the women of Troy to tell their story.

Thrillingly imagined and startlingly original, For the Most Beautiful reveals the true story of true for the first time. The story of Krisayis, daughter of the Trojans' High Priest, and of Briseis, princess of Pedasus, who fight to determine the fate of a city and its people in this ancient time of mischievous gods and mythic heroes.

In a novel full of passion and revenge, loyalty and betrayal, bravery and sacrifice, Emily Hauser breathes exhilarating new life into one of the greatest legends of all - in a story that has waited millennia to be told.

I like to think that one or two of you have been reading my reviews for a while, and so a few of you should know something about me, but for those of you who don't....I'm a history nerd. One of the areas of history I'm obsessed with? Ancient Greece. I guess I liked all the stories of the Gods and watched Hercules one too many times as a kid, but there you go! 

I couldn't resist getting started on this book near enough straight away when I received it, I mean..the ladies of the Trojan War. All the big names are in there, but we get a better look at two lesser known ones. Briseis and Krisayis. As well as a nice look at Cassandra I might add, the look we got at Helen wasn't all that flattering, if I'm honest. 

For The Most Beautiful is inspired by the poem the Iliad, if you haven't read it, you might fancy giving it a go after reading this! Hauser has given us a really nice Author's note with lots of information about the Iliad and the story she's told, as well as guides to characters, place, pronunciation and other reading you might want to do. I must say, I geeked out a bit reading all of that as much as the actual book, but anyway, the author will tell you aaaalllll about it in her Author's Note so I won't be expanding too much on the poem! 

ANYWAY. Guys. I might have people disagreeing with me on this but I totally felt like this was The Hunger Games: Greek Edition. I loved the story, really I did, but some of my favourite parts where the Gods. Throughout the book we not only get the ladies point of view, but we also get glimpses of the Gods, I found myself laughing quite a bit at them as well and rolling my eyes, they're so perfectly brought to life and embodied from what I've read in other books! But they're all kind of casually chilling up on Mount Ida, after you know, casually starting a war, sitting there watching everything unfold and influencing things. Like a bit of plague here....a miraculously improved aim there. I just could so easily picture the Gods as the Game Makers in The Hunger Games and all the characters we know as the tributes. Sorry, it's an odd comparison but it's one that sprang to mind! 

I got completely lost in the book, becoming more and more gripped as we went through events before the war, up to where the poem kicks off and onwards. The writing was compelling and wove a story full of so much pain and betrayal and treachery and bravery and so on. It was all woven together, the book made you feel a lot of things. The authors writing really brought the Trojan War to life, it was vivid, the imagery was fantastic, you felt like you where there, strolling along. Well maybe not strolling in the war parts, but whichever the setting it had an atmosphere all of its own, and it was brought to life before your eyes. 

I have to say, at this stage, that I have never really liked Helen and Paris. The two are just like "yeah..don't worry I'll bring you back to Troy with me" "omg Paris thanks so much" *casually starts war* *Paris is completely useless* *casually sit back and let everyone else fight for them in the WAR THEY BROUGHT* and in this book, I actually ended up just plain disgusted with them. Hector was too though, so it's all good! I mean seriously. The dude hides in his room while his brothers die, and their soldiers die and it's his fault. But you know. Whatever. 

The other characters however, I came to like a lot! Including Achilles, which was a surprise after seeing him through Briseis eyes in the beginning! I'm not going to talk much about the characters we all ready know fairly well. I want to talk about Briseis and Krisayis, because they where so freaking fantastically created. I loved them. They where brave, they where strong, they both went through a hell of a lot and came out the other side. Sort of. Briseis could have taken revenge at one point near the end, she really could have, but she didn't. She got what she finally wanted, heartbreaking as it was. Krisayis also never gave up on what she set out to do and took such huge risks to help her people and was instrumental in convincing the King to make a particular moved that saved so many people. I just couldn't get over how utterly fantastic these characters where. They really came to life before my eyes, and I was rooting for them and heartbroken for them and just connected with the both of them a lot and wanted them to succeed. 

For The Most Beautiful is a completely fantastic read, yes, it did take me a little while to get completely gripped by it, but I was intrigued from the start by the premise and the opening scene. I ended up gripped as the events of the book played out, and our brave female characters showed their true bravery and took risks to help the people they loved. I'm so intrigued to see what the author is going to do next, and I'm expecting great things! 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Review: Darkhaven and Goldenfire

Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy Courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher! 

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven.

Yet her half-brother Myrren hasn’t inherited the family’s ability to shapeshift, so their father, Florentyn, forces Ayla to take over as heir to the throne.

When Ayla is accused of Florentyn’s brutal murder only Myrren believes her innocent and aids her escape. A fugitive from her own guard, Ayla must now fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

But does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

I am such a huge fantasy fan, as I've read more and more books, I've found myself consistently loving fantasy and gravitating more towards it than any other genre. This is by far one of the best I've read! I was so intrigued by the summary and so lucky to be able to review it and it's sequel, and ya them one after the other! 

The thing that intrigued me in the summary was that female Ayla was being forced in to inheriting the throne...the mere fact that a female was inheriting is what piqued my interest, usually in fantasy books it's all about the male heirs, so the fact a female was inheriting over a male made me curious! Then the whole...murder and fugitive thing as well of course! 

I found Darkhaven to have many elements that I love, the world building was fantastic and I found myself getting lost in the world of the book and eager to learn more about it. It was such a unique world with Changers being the ones in charge and the lore and mythology behind the Changers was fascinating and I was eager for more information on them and loved the scraps provided through someone's reading. I fell completely in love with the idea of Changers and the different kinds and it was such a fascinating world and just.....original. You guys know how much I value things that are a little bit different! 

Darkhaven doesn't hang about and it's straight in with the plot moving forward, straight in to mystery and straight in to action. While I had worked out who it was, I second guessed myself a lot thanks to the authors skill at dropping clues here and there and getting you to follow the characters way of thinking. More and more things would be revealed and my idea of the culprit kept switching until I was like "Oh..I am right! I AM RIGHT NO WAY?!" and ya know...I was mostly shocked that I'd actually gotten something right! I was half expecting to be wrong, like there was proper proof that you couldn't really argue with but I was still waiting to see if that was coincidence and then BOOM. I was right. Still not over it! Aside from that, there are many moments of surprise in the book, right from the start where you're kind of like...woah. Okay. Didn't see that coming, now everything I thought I'd worked out is wrong! 

The book is very fast paced, and I was completely engrossed in what was going on in the book. There where so many threads that came together to make a complex and fascinating plot. I was completely lost to the book! So much was going on, so much had to be worked out and there was so much mystery and the creepy Captain who seriously got what was coming to him, not going to lie! The thing is the premise is just so brilliant, Ayla is the only Changer in the city, so I was coming up with wild theories to prove her innocence and the whole time I was thinking...but what if it is here? What if it's the plot twist of all plot twists and it's been her all along?! So I was completely gripped in finding out who it was and what the explanation was! 

There was romance, and I thought it was completely cute watching it develop and come to fruition. I do love a cute romance! Although I will admit, Ayla's held more interest for me because there was the whole "oops, killed your mother by having a nap" thing going on. Yes I know it was an accident, but it was still an obstacle because of how Ayla felt about it, and I loved watching her have to turn to Tomas for help and then have her opinion change and her feelings change and then the ending. So perfect! Myrren on the other hand, had an obstacle to his romance with Serenna in that she's a priestess, that ended up not being much of an obstacle at all, I did find that a bit of a sigh and roll my eyes moment. I didn't really have much of an opinion on Serenna to be honest! She didn't engage me as much as Tomas did, I think. I don't know, she was likeable enough but she didn't spark any particular interest in me, except for when she was learning about the Nightshades and the Changer history, which provided a lot of the information! Maybe it's because she wasn't all that much developed, unlike the other characters, that I struggled to take an interest. Like I said, I much preferred the romance of Ayla and Tomas, and I much preferred Tomas to be honest, their scenes where many of my favourite! I also loved how the romance was a secondary thing, left to develop as the book went on, but not focused on all that much. Although I did find it interesting that Myrren and Serenna trusted each other from the beginning, and then in direct contrast, Ayla and Tomas had to build up their trust. 

The characters are so brilliantly created, Myrren and Ayla are so different, but I loved how determined Myrren was to prove Ayla's innocence and believe her, I mean there was a point when I was like...what if Thomas is correct?! But I was so pleased that Myrren wasn't the treacherous kind of brother! It surprised me as well, I'm not going to lie! I was also surprised at how accepting Myrren was of not being the heir and Ayla taking his place...and the fact he didn't bear her any ill will about it! It made for a refreshing change! Especially when things come to light, his motivation the entire time throughout the book has been all about his sister and her safety and I loved that the author made that choice! So many times there's so much familial backstabbing in fantasy books and I loved reading about a different sibling relationship! In short, Myrren is kind and even while growing over the course of the book, he retained his kindness and willing to see the good, quite a feat considering how he was treated as a child and growing up!

In contrast, Ayla is determined she doesn't want the throne and she's stubborn and I loved her, she was such a brilliant character! I loved how much she felt for her brother, I loved that they had such a strong relationship. Ayla has to deal with a lot in this book, being hunted by pretty much everyone and never once did she just have a little break down and allow herself to be too sad about it. I mean, obviously she has the human reaction to have a little cry about some things, she had her doubts which where perfectly understandable, but for the most part she was determined to prove her innocence and determined to carry on. She'd been looked down on most of her life, she wasn't always the kindest person ever and she just wanted to be accepted by her father. She grew a lot over the course of the book, I thought. I mean in the beginning when she was debating over a butty I was like...really? She felt a bit damsel-y. But then by the end of the book she was all fighting and determined, there was a situation in the end where she wasn't going to go down without a fight! 

The characters in the book, not just Myrren and Ayla, where all so complex and it really brought them all to life. Thomas the alcoholic who'd been kicked out of the guard, he's another character that changed a lot over the course of the book and I was so rooting for him as well! Even creepy, horrible Captain of the Guard was complex. I didn't particularly like the glimpses in to his head though! *shudders* I loved Sorrow completely, she was my favourite kind of character, a badass, swaggering sell sword who made me chuckle once or twice! I mean her sheer belief that she wouldn't be arrested at one point, as she swaggers in all casually...hilarious! 

We get lots of different points of view in the book, and each character has a distinctive voice, some more creepy crawling inducing than others. I'm looking at you Captain Travers. I loved how I could distinguish the characters narratives from the feel of the narrative. Each narrative was engaging and intriguing and gave you a deeper look in to a character and their motivation and kept you up to date with new discoveries, gave you new clues and helped to keep you guessing. The switches where smooth and always perfectly timed. It really helped to bring the story to life, to see all the different perspectives on the events of the book. 

Darkhaven was an engaging and gripping read and sucked me in from page one. I fell completely in love with the unique world and the creatures in it, I loved the pacing of the book and the different narratives brought that little extra something to the story. The world building was detailed, different places, different customs and so on, with  more areas of the world yet to be explored! The level of detail brought so much to the story without taking anything away from the plot or the pacing. I loved how creatures that in most other stories would have been hunted or used to further the plot, where in fact the main characters! It had a dark twist to it, and this, merged with the bursts of humour I felt when reading certain bits, plus the heart stopping fight scenes and other gave me a new fantasy series to completely obsess over! Although, the ending was bloody heartbreaking! 

Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy Courtesy of NetGalley and the Publisher! 

In Darkhaven, peace doesn’t last long.

Ayla Nightshade has ruled Darkhaven for three years. With the help of Tomas Caraway, her Captain of the Helm, she has overcome her father's legacy to find new confidence in herself and her unusual shapeshifting abilities.

Yet three years ago, a discovery was made that could have profound consequences for the Nightshade line: a weapon exists that can harm even the powerful creatures they turn into. And now, that knowledge has fallen into the wrong hands.

An assassin is coming for Ayla, and will stop at nothing to see her dead.

Goldenfire is kind of a perfect sequel, I'm not going to lie to you all! I love how seamlessly it continues on from the first book, and I read this straight after the first one so I should know! I just loved how the main thing with the assassin was as a direct result of events and discoveries in the first book and I loved how the whole thing with the guns showed how things where changing in the world of the book, how the guards would have to train with them and how Tomas's training may become obsolete with this new weapon. It was such a great touch and really helped to carry the story further, I think! 

There where so many plot threads in this one again! Each of the threads smoothly came together to create yet another gripping plot. You have to try to work out who the assassin is and much like the first book, I found I knew for certain who it wasn't, but there where a couple of suspects, and I kept changing as more and more clues where dropped, and then I had the answer, but then I changed my mind and then I just kept switching my suspect until it was revealed and it was such a great chase the author lead me on! I loved how even if you do guess the right're still not 100% sure, there's always the possibility you're wrong. There's so many clues and hints to put together and no matter if you guess correctly or not you're still going to be surprised. 

We meet a lot of new characters in the book, I'm unsure if there is going to be a third book but I hope there is because I'm excited to see what's become of some of the new characters we met! Ree is the first female hoping to be accepted in to the Helm and has to deal with a lot of ribbing from the boys, I wasn't sure if she was going to be all dodgy at one point, but I was happy that she defied stereotype/expectation/trope and helped Ayla when she needed it. We have Zander who ends up being very, very interesting and I'm desperate to know what happens to him next! Miles is another interesting addition, he wasn't entirely above suspicion for me, but he helped Ayla to make some rather interesting discoveries, that should there be a third book, could make things very interesting.  The other new character I want to mention is Penn, I had him pegged from the start but I was surprised how things turned out with him, he was another example of things being connected back to the first book so that the two carried on perfectly! He was another complex character, you see his struggle and you feel for him and then he does the thing and you're like oh Penn...I was really hoping you wouldn't. But you still kind of feel for him and I really want to see what happens next with him! 

Much like the first book, all the secondary characters are brought to life just as much as the main characters and are just as complex, and I think there's loads more to be discovered from them! You're probably dying to know about our favourite characters from the first book at this point! I was disappointed in the character of Serenna for her actions, I'm not going to lie, and we don't see much of Elisse, although how things ended have left me curious to what's going to happen to her and Corus! I'm hoping for a third book and assuming if there is one it'll jump to him being of age. BUT ANYWAY, not much of them, and I was kind of sad, but then Elisse was kind of being stupid with Corus's safety, I got it, I understood completely but at the same time I was like "This is so not going to end well for you!"

Things being how they where with Serenna we have a new addition and I felt so much for Ayla, she did the right thing, but Marlon was a horrible reminder of her brother, and I thought it was such a genuine situation and her actions were so sadly understandable, but I loved watching her overcome it all in the end! Ayla has grown even more in this book! You kind of see the extent to which she was shaped by her father, believing she's a disappointment and being half a Changer is nothing, when she's working with Miles and they make some discoveries she had no idea about! It's an interesting game changer shall we say! Tomas is now Captain of the Helm and I loved seeing how far he'd come, but he was still not entirely sure of himself when it came to he and Ayla and he doubted himself and the fact he's not perfect helps to bring him even more to life! I still can't believe they weren't married yet! Their romance had developed and I was just so gleeful at the end of the book! 
Sorrow is also back, and she just cracked me up, especially at the end. I was just kind of like...well then...typical Sorrow! We didn't see as much of her as I'd have liked, I don't know about you guys! I mostly just loved how she was doing the right thing and helping them without actually being paid, she went through quite a bit to help as well! Character development is a beautiful thing! 

In the sequel we see more of the world of the book,  not as much, but enough to get a feel for the place and I'm sure we'll be seeing it again in a third book. We also learn so much more about Darkhaven and how it's created, and I'm wondering/hoping, it's going to come in to play in the future. I'm so intrigued by the implications!  There's so much detail in this book as well, in the links between the assassin and Ayla, Penn and Tomas, the alchemy mentioned in the book, the discoveries made. The author really has a gift for putting in all the detailed without boring you, or slowing the pace of the book. This book was just as fast paced as the first, and the tension ramps up as you near the end of the book, I was on the edge of my seat as things played out, unsure what was going to happen. I mean...we all read Game of Thrones, we've all come to learn the harsh truth that no character is ever safe, and I was genuinely tense for the entire last part of the book. 

The multiple POV's continue with the chilling addition of the unknown assassin and said assassin's letters back to their employer. I read these with particular scrutiny but the author made no slips, and gave nothing away. Not even a gender! I loved the layer this added to the story, more clues, more suspense, more intrigue! I also loved the little journeys in to the page to see how events then, where influencing things in the present. 

Goldenfire smoothly continues on the story, as more knowledge of Changers and Darkhaven comes to light, new threats also make themselves known. You can forgive the book it's longer passages because the entire time you're reading your desperate to know more. More about the world, the characters and the plot as well as get answers to the many questions you have. The author gives us another fantastic mystery, with plenty of clues for you to puzzle over, yet still managing to surprise you when all is revealed, I just love how the author gives you so many threads and brings them all together smoothly and in such an engaging manner. I'm really hoping there is a third book, because there are plenty of things that have been left a little bit open  and I can picture such great things for a third book! 

Friday, 22 January 2016

Review: The Dark Days Club

The Dark Days Club
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: BUY BUY BUY! 
Source: Copy Courtesy of the Publisher, Walker! 

London, April 1812. Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is on the eve of her debut presentation to the Queen. Her life should be about gowns and dancing, and securing a suitable marriage. Instead, when one of her family's housemaids goes missing, Lady Helen is drawn to the shadows of Regency London, full of demonic creatures and deadly power.

There, she finds William, the Earl of Carlston, a man of dubious reputation and infuriating manners. He

is one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of powerful demons that has infiltrated every level of society. He believes that Helen, too, is destined to protect humanity, but all he is offering her is danger, savagery and the possibility of madness. Not the kind of destiny suitable to a Young Lady or a life she is sure she wants. On the other hand there is a Duke offering her a normal life, one she has been trained for all her life. 

But Helen finds herself being drawn further and further in to the shadowy world Carlston is offering. Should Helen trust a man whose reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her headstrong sense of justice lead them both into a death trap?

"In 1812, Prinny had been regent for one year. Britain was on the brink of war with America, and in its tenth year of almost continuous war with France and its emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. None of these countries, however, knew there was another, even older war being waged."
Well, well, well, I had a feeling I was going to love this book, it was pitched as "Jane Austen meets Cassandra Clare" it's set in Regency London and has could I not?! I was definitely not wrong. The Dark Days Club has firmly situated itself as one of my favourite books, and just completely blew me away. I became so immersed in to the world that my notes took on a very distinct Regency manner of speech! I bet this review will as well! I'm just not over the book, it was completely fantastic from start to finish and as soon as I started to read I knew I was going to love it, and I loved the book more and more the more I read and I fell completely in love. It surprised me, it didn't go where I thought it might, it took turns I didn't think it would and I never wanted the book to end as I was reading it! The world was so sumptuous and vivid and authentic!

There's a little introduction page at the beginning of the book that gave me such a shiver of anticipation as well as setting the scene and giving me some quick background information on the time period! Then we go straight in to the story, and it's everything you hope it will be and are expecting it to be and more! 

Helen is introduced to us immediately, and you get such a sense of her as a person just from one chapter, and I immediately loved her, and was on her side. She's fantastically loyal, particularly to a friend in a situation that would have seen most ladies of the time running away from said friend! She's friendly with her servants, Darby being her closest confidant. She's willing to help them as well, which would have been unusual for the time! Helen herself is quite unusual, she's taller than most girls of the time period, she's a debutant that also has some crazy demon slaying destiny, and she's fairly well learned when most ladies of her age would not be, nor would care to be. She's witty, intelligent, and she takes steps to protect her made as well as herself as things come to light. I can't get over how fantastic she is, she's completely different from the majority of YA female leads! I connected to her immediately and continued to love her more and more, feeling what she felt and rooting for her. 

You're immediately curious about Helen's parents and begin to suspect something is amiss. Little tidbits are dropped to drive you mad with intrigue and even when you get some answers, you don't get the one answer you're desperately trying to work out! So hoping for that mystery solved in the next book! Particularly as the Queen herself appears to be on Helen's mother's side! But that's only the start of the mysteries, more on the rest later! Let's talk characters....

Every single character was fantastically created and really came to life as you where reading, you could picture the characters so perfectly and they where complex and in a lot of cases there was or is more than meets the eye! I loved Darby, her ladies maid, she was loyal to Helen as well as her own friend. She was as protective as she could be of Helen, and she's there for her every step of the way supporting her and helping her with her plans. I'd love to know more about her in the next book, and she definitely has a larger part to play! 

Lord Carlston was an interesting character, I don't want to give too much away, which makes most of my notes redundant actually! BUT, he has a very shady reputation, like done something really bad and all of society is determined to shun him as best they can, except he has some friends in high places! As such, Helen's family hate him, but he knows about her mother and what's going on with Helen herself, he's pretty much decided he's her mentor. I actually really loved his character, I liked how there's this mystery to him and you're not entirely sure what the real story is, so for all you know he could actually be really dodgy, but you get to know his character you're like noooo there's a proper explanation and he's innocent, much like Helen's thought process! I'm waiting to find out the truth to be honest! He was a bit tough to crack in the beginning, he was cold and rude,  but as Helen gets to know him you see more and more of what he's really like as well as why he is the way he is and he's kinda perfect. He's pretty much really misunderstood and I loved how he was protective of Helen if when she wasn't sure she'd actually join him and the Dark Days Club. Helen's right though, his manners are awful! 

The supporting characters as well, are equally as well created, and complex, they're colourful and lively and add so much to the story just by being present. A lot of them you don't really see much, but I'm hoping to see more of some of them in the next book, as well as learn more about them. I really liked Helen's brother Andrew, he made me chuckle and was so open with his emotions compared to Helen, although I did want to smack him one at a couple of points! He was there for Helen in the end though! 

Quinn is another interesting supporting character I'm itching to know more about, he's Carlston's Terrene. What's that I hear you ask? That'd be giving too much away! The deranged mentor of Calrston's, was very well created, he made my skin crawl and made me feel mildly sickened. Then you have Lady Margaret and her brother Mr Hammond, I'd love to know how they came to be involved in things! I'm also looking forward to seeing more of the pair and their backgrounds hopefully! Duke Selburn (more of him shortly!), Beau, Millicent and so on, so many smaller characters helping to add to the story and create the atmosphere and setting so perfectly! 

Now we've covered characters, I'm sure you're all itching to know about the romance! The romance is  very subtle. We spend most of the book watching Helen and Carlston getting to know each other and watching things slowly building up. There's cute scenes, don't get me wrong, but they're further in to the book as the two have gotten to know each other better and feelings are beginning to develop! All of this culminates in a scene near the end that had me quietly cheering (because it was nearly 5am), and then the very end of the book was totally cute and made me so excited for the next book! The romance isn't the main point of the plot, and I loved that it was subtle and the romance didn't jump straight in. The pair have some definite chemistry that becomes more and more apparent, and it leaps off the page. 

One thing I dislike in YA is insta-love so I loved watching Helen and Carlston get to know each other, be surprised by each other as they learn new things about the other. They both have a lot more in common other than both being ya know...what they are, and their opinions of each other clearly change as they learn. They're both logical and intelligent, rationalists. I think they both surprised each other at varying different parts of the book, and you see them slowly get to know each other and then like I said, it perfectly segues in to developing feelings. Developing. I say that for a reason because we are literally just seeing the beginning of the potential romance, and I'm excited to see they're relationship develop more over the course of the next book and see where it goes! 

Their first meeting though, I just have to mention it because I kind of wanted to smile and chuckle a bit, but at the same time I really wanted to smack him one! Much like Helen, actually! I loved how Helen didn't give him the nicest description in the beginning either, and you could see Helen's feelings develop and change as her descriptions of him changed, which was a lovely touch to be honest! 

I'm not gonna lie, I'm pretty much on the Helen and Carlston ship, (do they have a ship name?) like as soon as they first met I was like YUP! I SHIP IT! I'm also fairly certain Helen is set on Carlston as well. So yeah, I have picked my team and my ship and so because I immediately loved the two of them together, and their back and forth, it added another dimension to watching the whole getting to know you oops now I have feelings, thing!  There's some interesting obstacles in their way as well, and the way is not smooth in this book either, there's trust issues and some drama but like I said, I do find them kinda cute when he's not being all jerky. I'm so excited to learn about Carlston and hopefully have one of the obstacles removed, but it looks like it's going to be an interesting romance and not straight forward. No drama for the sake of drama, but perfectly natural and organic obstacles before things can be settled. I really hope I'm correct, because if the author goes in a different direction with the romance I'll look back at this and probably cry! 

Although, speaking of obstacles, I loved how Helen's struggle over whether or not to join The Dark Days Club was so completely authentic. It's a perfect example of what I'm talking about, no drama for the sake of drama, it's a completely natural obstacle. Considering the time period and the situations being a Reclaimer throws her in to, and what things where like for women of the time, her concerns about joining where very real. She's risking a lot by joining, her sanity, her reputation and so on, so it's a very genuine struggle and because she's intelligent and logical and weighs everything she can see both sides, good and bad of joining or not joining. I can't really blame her for hesitating! I love how you have that level of understanding of Helen! 

Now. I'm not entirely sure if there is going to be a love triangle. The previously mentioned Duke Selburn has an interest in Helen, an interest that doesn't go away no matter what situation she gets herself in to that isn't entirely proper. He and Carlston have an interesting background together, and I'm not entirely convinced that Selburn really does like Helen and doesn't want to just one up Carlston, or isn't seeing his past love when he see's Helen. Selburn is kind of the perfect contrast to Carlston, he too has things in common with Helen, but has a different countenance to him than Carlston. Or does he? Thinking about it, there's a bit near the end that made me wonder about him actually. ANYWAY, he's an interesting potential romance. He can offer Helen a normal life, and a way out from her Uncle and his douchey nature. 

We don't actually see much of Selburn or get to know him as much as Carlston, I'm wondering if that might change in the next book. Like I said, I'm not sure if there is going to be a love triangle but like he seems pretty determined, and even though Helen seems fixed on Carlston and joining his cause and has seemed to settle on not having a normal life, I'm wondering if it might change or if maybe she does have some sort of feelings for Selburn, not as strong as Carlston but maybe. I'm not sure. If there is going to be a love triangle, it's definitely going to be an interesting one for many reasons! 

So at this point, you're probably dying to know what Helen and Carlston are. All I'm going to say is the book introduces us to the Reclaimers. Helen and Carlston are two of 8 in the country, and they are part of the Dark Days Club. The club also has other members who gather intelligence, and they fight Deceivers aka demons. They have plenty of different gifts, but eventual madness is a consequence of using them. Helen is tied up in a prophecy, there's signs of a Grand Deceiver coming ( I snorted so hard at the implication Bonaparte was one) and the game could change. This is a brief, very brief, explanation without going in to too much detail, because there is seriously so much to the story and what they are! 

The lore of the demons in the book and the mythology surrounding the Reclaimers is rich and detailed and very well explained, as well as astoundingly original. There's different kinds of demons that feed on different things. The demons and how they operate is original, and I just love original spins on things! You come away from the book feeling like you really did enter the world, you have such a complete understanding without reading pages and pages of explanation, it's all slotted in to the dialogue and is so fascinating that you're gripped and eager to learn more. So my very brief explanation is merely the tip of the iceberg, there is so much to learn and it all gives your imagination a workout! 

I really, really liked that it didn't jump straight in with the demons right at the beginning, it builds up to it, adding to the mystery that Helen is trying to solve. You could tell something weird was going on but you weren't sure what was going on, you where kept guessing as you, along with Helen, tried to work out what she was, what she could do and so on. The introduction of this shadowy world was gradual, strange events occur, Helen discovers more and more things she can do, and you make some guesses, and the intrigue and the suspense builds....then there's the reveal. I think the reveal was done right at the perfect moment in the story and fit with the pace, and I loved how when Carlston does the whole reveal thing, there are still surprises that you aren't expecting, within the lore and the mythology and what they can do and so on! I must say, I was delightfully surprised at the detail to it all! I've read so many that don't delve in to it too much, but everything is laid out in a fantastic amount of detail so you can fully understand the workings of the Reclaimers. 

I just have to mention Helen's abilities for a minute, she immediately displays some of them, and it really gets you excited for what's to come especially when you know some of the ones that are coming. The strength coming on was a fantastic scene *fans self*, I wasn't sure what to expect from it and I loved the position it put Helen in, being able to fight back. I loved the Chi thing, it was something I'd not seen done before! I particularly loved how she could predict/calculate what would happen next in situations, particularly potentially violent ones, and could see the steps needed to prevent them and so on, the way it was written when she uses this ability really reminded me of the Sherlock Holmes films! I also loved the way Helen reading people was described! So much thought has gone in to the book! 

I immediately fell in love with the world of the book, and it was obvious that a hell of a lot of research had gone in to it. It doesn't romanticise the time, I mean the talk of the hair pads, uncomfortable clothing, and ya know....what happens if you need to pee while waiting to be presented! While that was quite gross, I did actually chuckle at the whole, men using sawdust to bulk out their calves, and women using wax rather than the more modern chicken fillets! The author has done a hell of a lot of research on events at the time, phases of the moon, etiquette, people of the time, publications of the time and what life was like and more! 

You genuinely are thrown straight back in time to Regency London, you can picture the streets and the settings so clearly, smell the food, feel the heat of the dance rooms. You're fully brought in to the world in how authentically created it is. No to mention the fact that real historical events have been smoothly tied in to the plot, with a twist to bring them fully in to the world of the book, and it's so brilliantly done that you immediately accept the alternate explanation like "yup, can totally see that happening".  Other events are mentioned to give you an idea of the political climate of the book, and what else was going on in the world, events that weren't tied entirely to the plot, but just added a nice touch to bring you in to the world. Not to mention the historical figures added to the book, some that you see more than others like Beau and others you only see in passing like Byron that helps to set the scene. Not to mention the characters authentic reactions to Byron and Beau, in particular! 

I just completely fell in love with the world of the book as I fell in to it, despite it not pulling it's punches and showing the harsher sides to living in that time as well as the glamour of the dances and being presented and so on. Like I wouldn't have liked to have lived in that time, or at least not as one of the ton and being married off to any bloke with good standing, not one that you necessarily like! I wanted to smack her Uncle so many times, preferably with a heavy object for being such a d**k! I mean I know he was a "product of his times" but he made me so damn angry and how he treated Helen and spoke to her and ugh. Yeah. Women couldn't really do much and didn't have all that much control basically.

The writing was beautiful with some fantastic descriptions, including the not so flattering one of Carlston where she says he basically has eyes like a shark. Hey! I told you she's not that flattering of him in the beginning! As well as the stunning and vivid descriptions, the writing was compelling with a steady pace that ramps up as the action does and we head towards the end! Every word rang with authenticity. The entertaining narrative, the dialogue, all of it was authentic in the language and phrases used, without being a heavy read. I loved that. That I felt like I was reading an actual book from the time period, without being bored, or struggling, in fact I was gripped the whole way through! 

It was also incredibly atmospheric, each setting have an atmosphere to go with it that was practically a physical thing, that rises off the page and surrounds you, drawing you in to the book more and more until you get completely lost in the book. That is, coincidentally, how I ended up reading until gone 5am! And THAT is probably why I found some bits creepy. Like there where some bits that where creepy in general, but made even more creepy by the fact I was reading it at night, when everyone else was asleep and kept hearing strange noises! The fight scenes where also fantastically written! They where gripping and had you on the edge of your seat, just as much as the social situations fraught with backstabbing Ladies and people watching and judging your every move. 

The plot is fantastic. Like I said, we build up to the big reveal and learning about the world, which gives time for the author to let you get to know the characters, the world and what things are like in that world. Not to mention to show you how much Helen overcomes and develops over the course of the book! It's got a fantastic pace, and there are so many threads! The missing maid, who Carlston is, what really happened with him, Helen's life, what she is, the man following her, and that's just some of them. Seriously. There's so many fantastic threads, that weave together perfectly to create one hell of a gripping and enchanting plot. Each thread adds another element to the plot, another piece of intrigue to keep you guessing. Not to mention the surprising plot twists, and some that where downright shocking, I actually gasped and choked on what I was drinking! 

I would fully agree with the description about being Jane Austen crossed with Cassandra Clare, I would however, say that Dark Days Club is darker than the Mortal Instruments, and as much as I love Mortal Instruments, I think this is on another level. I'm kind of leaning towards saying it's more grown up and definitely doesn't shy away from the seedier elements of Regency London! I completely loved the mix of these darker elements with the lighter ones such as the dances, and the humour. 

The build up to the ending of the book ramped up the tension, like I said, I stayed up until 5am because I couldn't put it down and was completely engrossed in the world of the book! It was the perfect build up of everything that had been going on, and the scene with her Uncle! SO MUCH FIST PUMPING! I can't even with the end! It got me so excited for the next book, and it's a YEAR wait! A YEAR! I can't cope that long without more Lady Helen! Like I've said, I can't decide if a love triangle's coming, or just a problem in general, there's so many possibilities for the next book and the direction of the story!

I'm so excited to see what's going to happen next, I'm in complete desperate need of the next book and I'm really not looking forward to the incredibly long (A YEAAAAARRR) wait! So many questions where answered, but there's more questions and some questions left unanswered, mysteries left unsolved and I'm hoping to see them sorted in the next book because my curiosity for some of them is killing me, and all my theories have been shot down and they're getting more and more elaborate and ridiculous now! 

The authors note is a font of knowledge, giving you even more than you picked up over the course of the book, and showing you just how much the author has done. I was in awe at her researching abilities and dedication to making it so completely accurate! As a history nerd I'm so blown away by it and insanely jealous of her resources! There's also confirmation that not much has been tweaked to fit the story! I particularly loved the note "To my knowledge, there is also no documentation that supports the assertion that Napoleon Bonaparte was a Grand Deceiver.....but you never know" *snorts*

SO this has been an incredibly gushing review, but I am 100% in love with this book, the world, the characters and just everything. I mean the book has everything you could want, rich mythology, manners, romance, a fantastic female lead, lively characters, vivid settings, astounding historical accuracy, originality, heart stopping fight scenes, cool gadgets and a perfectly building romance with plenty of cute moments to keep you going! Not to mention the previously mentioned perfectly created, gripping plot! How could you not love that!? It sucks you in, you lose track of time and reality and fall on to the streets of Regency London. As the ending neared I wanted the book to last longer and found myself getting sadder as the page numbers went up and up. I'm just still completely in awe of this book and blown away and I immediately want to dive back in! Roll on the next books, and more adventures! 

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