Monday, 26 June 2017

Manga: Your Name

Your Name Vol 1
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Mitsuha, a high school girl from a town deep in the mountains, dreams of an unfamiliar life in Tokyo. Taki, a high school boy from Tokyo, dreams that he is a girl living in the mountains. As the two change places in their dreams, their encounter sets a miraculous story into motion.

Very recently I went to MCM Comic Con in London, and I decided to check out one of the anime panels. The first thing they talked about on this panel? Your Name. We got to watch the trailer for the movie and heard all about how it was so popular that the movie was being re-released back in to cinemas and so on. I was intrigued by the trailer, and I thought it looked like a Freaky Friday kind of thing but more serious. So when I saw there was a manga version coming out, I had to check it out! 

The artwork is gorgeous, especially the settings and I really liked the contrast between the two different settings! How I wish I could draw! It is kind of like Freaky Friday in that there's body swapping going on, but my initial impression of that was wrong. There's a lot more to it than that, and I was so curious about how it was happening and why and how they'd resolve it. 

I really loved Mitsuha and Taki, and I loved watching them develop a friendship despite the odd circumstances as they navigated swapping with each other and sharing lives and tried to help each other out...sort of. I liked the way they went about doing it too, dairy entries and notes and stuff. I totally got Mitsuha's frustrations with living out in the sticks and wanting to be in the city, and wanting to be more than what she was expected to be. I think she's a relatable character. Taki I didn't get as much of a sense of but I imagine once over the weirdness of it all, it's probably a nice break for him to be in Mitsuha's place with family and all their traditions. 

I was really, really enjoying this manga....and then the end happened and I was like nooooooooooo! Seriously, it was like *drops bombshell* "Continued in volume 2!" *insert evil smiley face* and I was like NOOOOOOOOO to the max. Seriously. It's going to be torture waiting for the next volume! I'll have to check the movie out, but then again I was going to watch the movie after I was done with the manga because they're probably a little bit different...aahhhh decisions! 

Your Name is certainly intriguing, and I can see why it's become such a phenomenon and why everyone raves about it. It's funny but also at the same time heartwarming and has a serious tone to it so it doesn't end up being too silly or a comedy. It's also really touching. The characters are relatable, and it keeps you reading as you want to discover what's going on, and how it's going to be resolved. I'm definitely intrigued to see how this is all going to turn out and what's going to happen next! 

If Your Name sounds like your kind of thing, or you want to check it out, Yen Press are giving away 5 copies over on GoodReads

Friday, 23 June 2017

Review: Our Dark Duet

Our Dark Duet
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

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

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

When I read This Savage Song, I completely loved it and immediately devoured it, so I couldn't wait to get stuck in to its sequel! This was everything I was hoping for and more, and the ending completely gutted me. 

We start off Our Dark Duet with a quite frankly, chilling opening. When we rejoin Kate and August it's been six months since the end of This Savage Song and things are quite different for the both of them. We jump straight in with some action as we join Kate hunting and I loved seeing Kate in her element, hunting down monsters with her little team. I really feel like there was a CSI: Monster Edition kind of vibe, because you've got Kate in Prosperity, which supposedly has no monsters, hunting them down with her team. There's Teo, Bea, Liam and Riley and I was quite disappointed we didn't get to see more of them! They all seemed to work together really well! Anyway, they're working with Kate, it was kind of like Arrow with the Vigilante team at one point, and then at others it was a bit CSI with Kate investigating a murder and so on. I loved it. It felt like such a different vibe to me than the first book but was still recognisably the same world. 

August is now a leader of his own little group made up of Rez, Harris, Jackson and Ani. There's also a new Sunai in town, Soro and I'm still not sure if I actually liked him! August is obviously in Verity as they're all fighting against Sloane, Alice and his organised force of monsters. They've got people escaping from one side of the city in to their side and needing to be checked out and trained and so on. We get to meet a couple of the new recruits like Colin, although I couldn't remember if we'd met him in TSS or not. Again, Augusts scenes had a different vibe to Kate's and it was a nice contrast between the two. I had wanted to see more of the world of the book and Victoria really delivered! 

Kate's just as badass as ever, she's determined to fight and help and take out the monsters. But she has one struggle. A struggle that makes things very difficult for her.....friendship. Yep. Kate's got friends. I loved seeing her interact with her little group, and worry about them and she's not used to having friends so it was nice to see her with friends who cared about her and worried about her, and how she dealt with that and this new friendship thing that she'd never really experienced much before. Forever loving her sarcasm and witty one liners too! 

August has changed a little, he's become colder, more distant and perhaps a bit darker. He's got Leo in his head messing with him, affecting how he thinks and acts. He's trying to do what's right, trying to protect people but he's not the August we know and love from TSS. It was interesting to see this other side of August, and even more interesting to see how he changed again when Kate was back and challenging him. It was like she made him finally question himself and realise how he's acting. 

I read Our Dark Duet in two sittings because I was completely glued. There's more action, more monsters, more fighting, more gore, more darkness and more interesting looks at human nature and what really makes a monster. I love how that's woven in and makes you think. There's a new threat to face. We get to see more of the FTF and how it works, and the inner divisions between them all. The different plot threads all tie together brilliantly to make the overall plot, as do the three different POV's we get. Kate, August and Sloane are interesting narrators and they're all different from each other, so they have interesting and differing viewpoints on what's going on. Sloane is just plain creepy to be honest. The plot is filled with nuances and sly plans from Sloane, and it keeps you intrigued, keeps you invested. 

I have to say, the ending of this completely broke me. As we get to the end the pace is so snappy that I was forcing myself to calm down and read slowly instead of reading too fast and missing things. The ending...I had to sit there after I'd closed the book for a good few minutes. It was devastating for me. But the last sentence...there was just something about it. The entire book, much like the first, is very vivid. Verity and Prosperity rise up in front of you, the contrasts obvious. You can picture each one of the settings, and you get completely sucked in so that you feel like you're there, helped along by the atmosphere that permeates the book. 

When I read that last sentence in the book, I could picture it so vividly, like it was playing out on a cinema screen, and after that last sentence it fading to black and the credits rolling. If this is the final book...then it's brilliantly wrapped up and a very satisfying if not heartbreaking conclusion to the story. Having said that, while it's heartbreaking...the ending and how things end up are actually very fitting for the book if I'm honest. 

Buuuuttt I've heard that this is a duology and then that this is a series...I mean...I wouldn't say no to a third book you know? But at the same time...I feel like August and Kate's story is done. I would really like to see some more of the world of the book though, there's so much left to explore! 


Thursday, 22 June 2017

Review: Godblind

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?

Fair warning everyone, this is bloodthirsty and gory from the start. There's attempted rape within the first couple of pages and it's not the first time. There's also a particular scene with a sacrifice that will haunt me, and make me twitchy whenever anyone near me wields a hammer. DIY is lost to me now. It's safe to say red was the correct jacket colour choice! There's some casual murder within the first couple of pages, swiftly followed by a smidge of regicide. The cheating at cards and general backstabbing and...stabbing seemed like childs play after that. After the sacrifice/torture scene....anything else pales in comparison and is like a walk in the park. 

There's violence towards women, it's true, and I know that put some reviewers off but there's violence towards pretty much everyone in this book. Alongside that...there are so many strong female characters in this book. Rillirin in particular goes from being a victim of said violence, to getting more and more courageous, learning how to defend herself...and then you have her as she is at the end of the book. It's a brilliant character development arc and one I enjoyed reading. I was rooting for her every step of the way. There was also Tara, one of my favourite characters of the book. She's a complete badass and doesn't take crap from anyone, the same can be said for Dalli. 

Crys was another of my favourite characters. He cracked me up, and I swear he has nine lives. He always manages to just slip out of trouble and scrape on by. I 100% ship him and Ash. His initial struggle with his sexuality was interesting, and I think well handled but I can't really speak to the accuracy of it. Either way, by the end of the book he and Ash had me squealing. A spot of bright amid the blood! I also really loved the banter between he, Tara and Dalli, I'm gonna be needing more of it in the next book! Not to mention I'm going to need to learn what Crys is....because everyone kept mentioning a certain thing about him and it got me so excited but wasn't answered! 

There's plenty of other brilliant characters, Durdil and his son Mace, both of who had to finagle their way out of sticky situations. Dom, who has an intriguing gift. I'm intrigued to see what will become of him. There's also plenty of nasty characters that you love to hate. I had no qualms going full Game of Thrones mindset on these characters and hoping they get killed off. Rivil...I was actually hoping to like him but nope. Galtas...the slimiest of slimy snakes. He totally needs to die first, just saying. And then we have Corvus and the Blessed One. I'm not sure which one of them is worse. Corvus is an opportunist and deserves a taste of his own medicine. Maybe the Blessed One will get rid of him. I can dream. 

I breezed through this book fairly quickly, possibly thanks to the POV changes. There weren't any super long chapters, so we kept switching characters quite quickly. This was a bit confusing for me in the beginning as I was getting used to the setting and trying to work out who was who and who did what. It took me about 100 pages or more to get in to the book, to reach a point where I was no longer iffy about the book and invested. Once things got going the shorter chapters and constant POV changes pushed the plot forward, and kept you up to date with what was happening where, and brought in new plot threads and characters. I think the POV's where in the double digits when I finished reading. 

The POV's would sometimes overlap because they're quite short, so we'd get different character POV's but they'd be in the same location before bouncing off to a different setting. I had a fairly good idea of the world and what it looked like, and how it was laid out. The settings where vivid....the scenes vivid too even when you wished they weren't! I have to say, while it's bloodthirsty, violent and brutal there's also lighter sides to it. There's some romance as I've already mentioned which was a nice surprise, there's some humour, and I personally enjoyed the loyalty and camaraderie amongst one faction/group. It does take a little while before the lines are firmly drawn in battle between good and evil, therefore you can imagine the epic plot twists leading up to that moment. Everything was unsure. You knew which characters where on which side, but there where still some left to be decided and all these plot twists came out of nowhere, brilliantly shocking until you knew who was on which side for sure. 

Godblind sets the scene, it's the first in a trilogy, and this is merely act one. There are plenty of plot threads that have just had the seeds planted. This book has introduced us to the characters and the world and as you read the action and pace picks up more and more and ends. To be continued in book two. I'm kind of thinking of this trilogy as one giant book that's been cut in to three and released in separate chunks, if you know what I mean! There's treachery, betrayal and sinister plots to untangle as you read. But there's also unexpected romance, humour and strong bonds between some characters. Godblind is gritty, brutal, and so vivid you wished it wasn't. It's seriously gory and violent, I shuddered more than once when I was reading. The epilogue is quite frankly chilling. I'm so intrigued to see what's going to happen next, and I can confirm that Joe Abercrombie fans will love this! 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Review: Flame In The Mist

Flame in the Mist
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires. 

I devoured this book. Seriously. I raced through it, and I couldn't put it down. Flame in the Mist is by far one of my favourite books of the year. I wanted to crawl in to the book and join the Black Clan, meet the characters. I finished the book and immediately wanted to re-read it. I didn't want it to be over. But it ended, and it left me hanging and I'm so desperate for the next book, it's not even funny. All I can do is applaud Renee for writing such a brilliant book. I was in awe. 

Mulan is my favourite Disney Princess movie. I remember going to see it with my mum at the cinema, and completely falling in love. I loved the music, the setting, it sparked off an obsession with China. Once I was older, I read everything I could about Chinese mythology and history. I was fascinated. One of my dreams is to go to China and visit all the landmarks, the Great Wall, the Terracotta Soldiers. The movie even influenced my room. I was forever disappointed it didn't get a TV show like some of the other Disney movies, but it did get a sequel. The first movie however, is the best in my opinion. 

SO, when I heard that this was a retelling of Mulan, or Mulan crossed with this or that...I knew I needed to read it. It went straight on to my TBR, and when I received a proof of it, I screamed the house down and did a happy dance and my mood couldn't be broken for days. I find so few books set in China, let alone the time period of Flame in the Mist! 

Flame in the Mist immediately sucked me in, I was intrigued just from the prologue and then once I met Mariko I instantly loved her and was totally on board with her and her journey. I loved Mariko so much, she's intelligent, and strong, and brave when she needs to be. She wants better for herself than what she's 'allowed' as a woman in that time period. I loved watching her discover her potential and where she belongs in the world, it was an amazing journey to watch. She invents things and aaahhh I just loved her. Seriously. She's my favourite. 

Aside from Mariko there's plenty of other interesting characters in the book. I was intrigued by her brother Kenshin, he seemed to genuinely care about his sister which was a nice surprise as I wasn't sure what to expect from him. He taught her how to defend herself and never gave up looking for her. I'm interested to see more of their relationship and how they interact. We learned more and more about Kenshin with each chapter, at first he was a shadowy figure, potentially an enemy, but you learned more and more about him until you felt for the guy. There's more than meets the eye with him, but after some events...I'm hoping he stays good! my notes for Ranmaru when I started reading I wrote "bit of an ass" which was true at the start. But I ended up really loving him because he always encouraged Mariko and gave her a chance. He let her make her inventions, he used them. Considering the time period it was set in, I really loved him for that and respected him. Which magnified tenfold when you realised just what he knew. 

Okami....he intrigued me right from the start, mostly because of his abilities but then I started shipping him with Mariko hardcore. I really loved him. There's so much to him, and after the big twist at the end I can't wait for the second book to see what he becomes. If it changes him. I need to know the rest of his past! That's not to say I didn't want to punch him once or twice, much like Mariko did, I'm sure. 

Okami and Mariko might just be one of my favourite ships. They where so perfect together, challenging each other and I loved their banter and their interactions. I loved watching the relationship and their feelings for each other develop over the course of the book, and then when they where together...I NEED MORE RENEE! Give me all the feels, I don't even care. I just loved them so much. 

Along with my favourite characters there where a few suspicious types. I'm still not too sure how I feel about Ren. As for Raiden, Roku and the Emperor...I don't trust any of them. They're totally up to something. Or the Emperor is at least. Possibly Roku. I was disappointed by Raiden because he seemed genuine but was a complete a-hole. I know he's gonna bug me in book two!

Each of the characters was brilliantly crafted, they had their good moments and their bad. There was more to them than first met the eye, and they really leaped off the page and came to life for me. The world was vivid, and beautifully crafted, I could picture each setting so vividly and thanks to that I immediately fell in to the world of the book and I didn't want to come back out. It was an enchanting world, and I was completely engrossed. 

I loved the writing style...the storytelling. It was so decadent and authentic and it fit so well with the place and the time, and helped to bring the world to life. The words used to describe things for instance, where pulled from the setting and the time. It just fit so well and everything combined so beautifully to create this book. 

There are plenty of plot threads to keep you hooked. As you read, the plot deepens as more and more threads are added to it. You have the shady Emperor, Mariko and the Black Clan and trying to figure out why they where after her. Her brother tracking her down and facing his own problems. The Black Clan themselves and the problems they have. Okame and his struggle with his feelings. More and more was added and the plot just sucked me in more and more. 

Flame in the Mist is a book that sucks you in and has you completely engrossed. The apocalypse could be happening and you'd have no idea because you're so focused on the book. I read this in two sittings, unable to turn the pages fast enough and reluctant to put it down when I had to, you know, sleep. There's action, romance, intrigue, mystery, vivid settings, beautiful all combines to create this fantastic read. There's still plenty more to be played out in the next book and even without the ending that nearly killed me with feels.....I eagerly anticipate the sequel. The wait is going to be brutal. I need to see how it all ends, learn the answers to my questions and just be back with the characters and back in the world. This is one of those books I'll re-read over and over and never get bored of it. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Review: Lord of Shadows

Lord of Shadows
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear. 

Okaaay, I'm really not sure how to review this book. I have so many feels about it, and it's taken me ages to be able to sit down and try to order my thoughts about it. Quite frankly, this book destroyed me. The ending completely devastated me and the wait for the next book is just seriously...2019?! SO CRUEL. This is probably going to be more of a reaction/discussion than a review, I'll try to review it but it's a very large book, and it hit me right in the feels! 

First off, Lord of Shadows is the book of ships. I have SO many damn ships now because of this book! I really, seriously ship Kit and Ty. Kit having lived most of his life in the real world understands Ty and his Autism, and really looks out for him and is there for him. I loved getting to see more of Ty in this book, and you know...Ty's a total badass. Kit needs some work on his badassery and I'm sure Ty can help him out. Either way, I ship them. I ship Diana and Gwyn which was a nice surprise ship that popped up. Hoping it means we get to see more of Gwyn! I continue to ship Emma and Julien but I'm leaning a bit towards Mark and Emma. Don't get me started on the love square. Kieran and Cristina. Cristina and Mark. Kieran and Mark. I SHIP THEM ALL. SOMEONE HELP. I'M HAVING A SHIPPING CRISIS. 

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was getting to see more of the supporting characters from Lady Midnight. Like Diana, we get to know Diana's secret and I was freaking cheering my head off. You go Diana. Sod the Clave. I loved her even more, and her story broke my heart. Forever hating the Clave for their prejudices. Totally need to go. This is definitely the most diverse book of the Shadowhunters series. It's got plenty of rep, and I'm hoping this means the Clave are going to FINALLY be pushed in to the future. Thanks to Diana, we get to see a bit more of Gwyn, still so curious about him, but I really respect him after this book. 

We get to see a lot more of the younger Blackthorns, which I enjoyed because we saw glimpses of them in Lady Midnight but I feel like we got to know them better in this book! Like I said, we saw more of Ty who's a total badass. We saw more of Livvy and the relationship between her and Ty and how much they help each other, and I really loved seeing their relationship through the eyes of Kit, a sort of outsider. We see more of Dru, and I felt for her, even when I wanted to throttle her at one point because I thought something dodgy was going on! Aaannnddd we get to see Kit who is an adopted younger Blackthorn in my eyes. Seriously thanks to Kit's POV we get so much insight in to the other Blackthorns and it was a God send. OH and I lived for Livvy, Ty and Kit investigating and the Sherlock Holmes references! 

Jaime finally makes an appearance. I'm not entirely sure I trust him after the revelation about him from Cristina in the first book, but he didn't seem as bad as he appeared. I guess we'll see. Diego I wanted to smack. Repeatedly. And Kieran. My lovely little Kieran. I went through phases of loving and hating him and feeling sorry for him in Lady Midnight. In Lord of Shadows he becomes a part of the group and I really came to love him so much in this book. He's actually quite funny and cracked me up more than once, especially his line about Magnus, he's like "Really? You all have to sleep with Magnus Bane? How exciting for you" I was practically screaming it was brilliant. He's such a laugh. I feel like in this book we really get to know him, and he's willing to help and stand up in front of the Clave. So much love. I also really loved his friendship with Cristina, it gave me life. I'm gonna need a load more Kieran in the next book! 

As for old favourites, we get a fair bit of Clary and let me tell you. I made it to about 60 pages in this book feeling quite chill before the sense of foreboding and doom and feels hit me. Thanks Clary. I loved watching Jace hanging out with Kit and I'm hoping for more of that, Kit's a little bit like Jace but then...they are Herondales. Seriously, he's got the Jace like one liners down. The two of them together is both hilarious and yet unfortunate for everyone else. 

What pleased me greatly was how much Malec we got. Aw yeaaaahh guys, Magnus and Alec appear and they stick around for quite a bit and I was loving it! Malec is my favourite and I love watching the two of them together so I loved seeing how they where doing and what they where like five years on! There's also plenty of references to Will....we visit the London institute so there would be...the connections...aaahhh I loved it. Cassie links all of her books together so well and so subtly without throwing it in your face every five minutes, it's brilliantly done! And because we get to go to London we see a certain ghost too! For those who've read the Shadowhunter Academy novellas, Jon pops up too. Poor Jon. 

Along with the old and still a wee bit new, we get brand new characters. Brand new, really unlikeable characters. Zara is quite frankly, a b****. Sorry. She's the leader of the Centurions and her father is in charge of the Cohort. The Cohort make me angry. They're against all downworlders and prejudiced even more than the Clave. They want things to go their way and be in charge or whatever and yet Zara and dear old Dad hid away during the Dark War and Zara takes credit for everyone else's work. Basically they're a huge bunch of cowards who are out to make the lives of Downworlders hell. I hope they get what's coming to them in the next book. 

There's plenty of plot threads woven together in this book, obviously the Emma and Jules thread is carried on and there's a nice big bomb drop thrown in there. Which is a wee bit awkward for the show. (Sorry not sorry). Then we have the whole thing with the Cohort and what's going on, as well as the groups quest from the Seelie Queen. All I'm going to say about her is that she appears to be playing the Fey version of Game of Thrones. Which'll be interesting because you know...when you play the Game of Thrones you win or you die. Hoping it'll work out but expecting devastation, I'm not going to lie. We'll see what happens.  

I breezed through this in two sittings, the pace is fast, there's always something happening, some plot thread or action or intrigue. The multiple points of view help us get to know characters and understand their motivations, as well as see what's going on when our characters are split up. Each character has their own voice and I loved getting to know Kit, Ty, Livvy and Dru more as well as Kieran! Cassie's writing is as vivid as ever, I could picture each setting and I loved revisiting some old settings too! Our characters grow and develop more and there are some heartbreaking plot twists. 

Lord of Shadows is the perfect sequel to Lady Midnight, it continues seamlessly on and old plot threads weave with the new as the plot thickens and becomes more complex. There's even more intrigue, more questions to be answered and the ending of this book is truly heartbreaking. There's humour but there's also heartbreak as the stakes are raised and a dangerous new enemy reveals itself. Cassie weaves each of her series together, connecting and linking them in little ways that bring a smile to your face as you read. I'm very, very curious to see how this is going to end, because it's very complex, and there are multiple ways it could go and no clue as to what will happen next! Lord of Shadows continues the Dark Artifices and firmly lodges itself as my second favourite of Cassie's series, second only to The Infernal Devices! the hell do we survive the wait until 2019?! 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Review: Skullsworn

Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy Courtesy of the Publisher! 

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer--she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one you love / who will not come again."

Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love...and ending it on the edge of her sword.

I haven't read any of the authors other books, so I haven't read the series that also features this world. After reading this...I really want to! I had no problems reading this, it's a standalone true but it is set in the same world as the series, and I've read standalones before that would be very confusing if you hadn't read the main series. There's no danger of that with this standalone, it's brilliantly done and in my case left me wanting to know and see more of the world of the book. Apparently Pyrre is in the main series, and I'd definitely be intrigued to see more of her after seeing her background in this book. Whether or not you've read the main series or are new to the authors books, this is a great read! It'll either enhance the world and characters if you've already read the series, or if you're new to the authors books, it'll intrigue you and give you a great background to one of the characters of the main series, as well as introduce you to the world. 

I was immediately pulled in by the narrative and the writing style. I really enjoyed and loved the authors writing style/storytelling. It wove a picture for me, kept me intrigued, and had me riveted to the story. We have a first person narrative from Pyrre, and I loved how it switched from present to past. We got little chunks of Pyrre's past and I seriously loved how instead of having a super long flashback or just having her past shoved in to the narrative...we got these little chunks of her past usually as she was telling one of the others. I could practically see the screen fading to black as she started her story, and then fading back in with past Pyrre. 

Pyrre really goes on a fascinating journey throughout the book, as she ventures back to her homeland and struggles with her task. We see the darker side of her and how she feels about herself as you would expect with her, shall we say, job, but we also see a different side to her as she notes the beauty of the world with her beautiful descriptions. I loved the complexities to her. We see her views on many different things, and how things like the Gods and so on affect her which was intriguing. I also enjoyed her thought process regarding love and what it means to her and so on. I'm kind of assuming that this happens before the original series but I could be wrong and it could be after, either way I'm intrigued by Pyrre and eager to see more of her! I thoroughly enjoyed her narrative and inner monologue. 

It's safe to say I really loved the characters, they're a colourful bunch. I'm curious about them and their pasts, and intrigued as to whether we get to see more of them in the main series, depending on whether this is before or after it! Ela was perhaps my favourite after Pyrre, she cracked me up and I genuinely loved her. Her relationship with Kossal was intriguing and I wished we'd gotten to see more of it. Ruc was fun too, and I'm definitely interested in seeing more of him and his past, and his past relationship with Pyrre! I loved watching the interactions between the two of them, I'm not going to lie! 

The world building for this book was incredibly good considering the fact it's not very long and is only a couple of hundred pages rather than the bigger fantasy books you expect. I'm sure in the main trilogy there's even more detail and more information, and I'm intrigued to see more of the world. As it was in this book, the world was incredibly vivid. I could perfectly picture each of the settings and practically smell the same smells as the characters. Even the grim ones. I was so incredibly fascinated with this world. Staveley has managed to build a vivid world that pulls you in, and create colourful and intriguing characters in half the page count of most fantasy books. Colour me impressed. 

I'm a huge lover of fantasy, but I also love me a little bit of romance too, which is what intrigued me about this book. The combination of the two. I read a lot of fantasy and there's not always much in the way of romance, but the two are perfectly combined in this book. World building, characterisation, romance, and plot are expertly woven together to create an engrossing read. 

Skullsworn is a must read, whether or not you've read the main series. Although fair's going to make you want to read the main series. I'm thinking I need to take a trip to the library to see if they have it so I can read the books ASAP! This book has plenty of life lessons, action, intrigue, secrets, blood and stabby times. But it also has humour, heartbreaking and heartwarming moments too. There's twists and turns and an ending I wasn't expecting...not to mention a beginning I wasn't expecting either....I many characters do you come across that accidentally trigger a bloody rebellion in the first pages!? I'm thoroughly impressed with this book and the Staveley's storytelling prowess and I'm expecting great things from the main series! 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Review: The Dragon's Legacy

The Dragon's Legacy
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Borrow
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The last Aturan King is dying, and as his strength fades so does his hold on sa and ka. Control of this power is a deadly lure; the Emperor stirs in his Forbidden City to the East, while deep in the Seared Lands, the whispering voices of Eth bring secret death. Eight men and women take their first steps along the paths to war, barely realizing that their world will soon face a much greater threat; at the heart of the world, the Dragon stirs in her sleep. A warrior would become Queen, a Queen would become a monster, and a young boy plays his bird-skull flute to keep the shadows of death at bay. 

I really wanted to love this book and give it aaalll the stars. There's a badass dragon on the cover, which is gorgeous by the way, and the synopsis sounded right up my street. Dragons...Forbidden City....magic...I needed this book! I had fun reading through all of the character information at the beginning and the background from the different the time I got to the first page I was so excited and so ready to dive in. 

While all the information at the beginning was a great way to give us a load of information without an info dump, and made sure we went in to the book well probably should have been a warning. Don't get me wrong, the book's imaginative and the beginning did pull me in. There's mystery and treachery...but it's at the end of the book that really comes in to play. There's a little bit at the beginning, but things don't really kick up a gear until towards the end of the book. 

I reached nearly half way with this book and I seriously considered putting it down, I'm not really sure what made me keep going, possibly my inability to leave a book unfinished. The different POV's where good, they provided insight in to characters and a look at other settings and what's going on, although a couple of them seemed a bit pointless once or twice I'm assuming the reason for them will come in to play later. The settings are vivid and the storytelling is very well done. I loved the writing, I really did. It brought the settings to life, and the story itself. The history of the world and the world itself is rich and intriguing. I'm definitely curious about this series, there's plenty of intrigue and magic....

....but. We all knew the but was coming. Like I said, half way through I was so close to putting this down. I was bored most likely because I was very confused. There was a lot of information at the beginning of the book...but it wasn't really enough. There are so many characters I kept losing track and getting confused about who was who and who was related to who and what that name or title meant. It was like Game of Thrones, I made it through that and it had waaaay more pages so I figured I could make it through this. The dragon's kept me going. But there where no dragons. Colour me disappointed. I also struggled with keeping everything straight, the plot threads, among many things. I loved the Vash'ai...but I really needed some more information on them and how they're relationship with the female warriors worked. I loved the idea of the female warriors, but I feel like we spent a lot of time with them and I was still confused because some things didn't make sense or weren't fully explained. Plus I was waiting for things to pick up and the intrigue to come in as we discovered who Sulema was. 

Jian, who's one of the other POV's and who we rarely see...was actually the easiest POV for me to read. I knew who he was, what he was, and what the deal was with his plot thread...and when I think back on the book, the rest of it....Sulema, her mother, brother etc, the female's all a massive tangle that I still can't seem to get straight. I couldn't tell you much about it to be honest. Which makes me sad. 

The ending of the book was much better. Although I did have to re-read it a few times because I still didn't know who these people where or what their problem was.....and I still don't. All I know is at the end the pace picked up, and there was some hardcore bloody betrayal and stabby times. That intrigued me and how it's going to play out. 

I'm really not sure what I think of this book. On the one hand it has a lot of good things going for's imaginative, vivid, intriguing and trust me...I'm really intrigued. I'm intrigued about these dragon's so often spoken about but never seen...I don't think. I mean there was a bit when I was that a? No? I don't know? I'm intrigued by the ending and to see how it's going to play out. But this book was so hard to get through and when I look back at it, except for Jian's part it's all a messy tangle that I can't really recall much about nor would I be able to explain it. The ending is a lot clearer but I'm still unsure about the motivations and who they are. There's just so many many threads...I'm just not sure. 

Review: The Struggle

The Struggle
Rating: 3/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

A bloody path has been chosen… 

The war against the Titans continues, and they remain determined to wreak havoc on the world, but Seth has become something all gods fear. Now the most dangerous, most absolute power no longer resides in those who have been freed from their tombs. 

The Great War fought by the few is coming… 

All may doubt and fear what Seth has become. All except the one woman who might be his final chance at redemption. Josie will do anything to prove that Seth is on their side, but fate has a nasty way of changing lives, of changing people. 

In the end, the sun will fall… 

The only way they can save the future and save themselves is by facing the unknown together. It will take more than trust and faith. It will take love and the kind of strength not easily broken. No matter what, their lives will never be the same. 

For what the gods have feared has come to pass. The end of the old is here and the beginning of the new has been ushered in…

I'm not going to lie, I still really prefer The Covenant series, and I was expecting this to be the final book because it was supposed to be a trilogy but now there's four I'm excited for another book but at the same time this book made me cringe one or two times. 

The Struggle picks up right where we left off and in this instalment we get to learn more about Seth and where he comes from and so on. I've been so intrigued by Seth and where he's from so I got super excited when it was pretty obvious what we where going to learn. I feel like Seth has matured over the course of this series, I've always loved Seth but I love him even more in this series, you can see his changed and grown although he still does have a tendency to do what he wants when it comes to Josie. Like killing Titans when he shouldn't be killing Titans. 

As for Josie she bugged me a lot less in this book, like last book she had such a thing about Alex and Alex is my favourite and forever my favourite so I wasn't all that keen on Josie being funny towards her because she was jealous and so on. She seemed to get over that in this book and it was nice to see them becoming friends. Since the last book she hasn't really changed all that much...although we do get to find out which power she inherited from Apollo. 

I continue to love our little group. Deacon's sass and pop culture references combined crack me up, like there was a zombie situation and he's like "Free from what? The set of The Walking Dead" and I was like oh Deacon. I continue to love Luke and I feel like we don't get to see enough of he and Deacon, especially as they went on their own mission to kidnap a demi-god! That would have been a fantastic chapter. 

Alex and Aiden continue to be cute, I've really missed them and I would kill for a book just about them and how they're doing now and what they get up to and so on. Like I know it won't happen but still. I need it. One thing I liked about this book was the apocalypse happening.....Seth and Aiden...finding...common ground....they where almost like...friends towards the end. Shocking I know. 

We didn't really see much of Apollo and I'm not sure I'm liking him much when we do. Hades though...I really love Hades. I'd love to see more of him, I'm not going to lie. He cracks me up, like when Hercules said "He could kill me" and Hades was just like "Oh the tragedy" I was like yes Hades. Saying what we're all thinking. I'm so intrigued by him! Speaking of Hades...we get a little visit from Caleb! Another reason why we should get another Alex and Aiden we can see more of Caleb because I loved his character! 

Praise the Lord that 'The Hercules' wasn't in this much...when he first appeared in this book I was like "ffs he's such a prat" but then off he went and we didn't see him again. I can handle that. We do get to see Perses again, like on the one hand he did a good thing...on the other he took his sweet time about it and I still want to throttle him. Such a pillock. 

We get some new characters in this book, we briefly get to meet Mitchell, and we get Cora...another demi-god, and I totally ship her and Gable. I was disappointed that with this book we didn't get to see much of Gable after they went through so much to find him last book. He was there for two seconds and then he was gone for the rest of the book...we briefly meet Cora and that's it. I'm slightly worried that with Josie and Seth and all of their drama....they got overlooked in this book and I'm hoping that won't be the case with the next book. 

I have to say....there is one scene that was so like the Mummy Returns it's not even. Apollo totally Ardeth'd Seth and was basically like "you've started a chain reaction that could bring about the next Apocalypse" and Seth is all *arms crossed* *eyebrow raised* chill dude. 

I'm not really sure what to say about this book, like Jennifer is one of my favourite authors, The Covenant is one of the first YA series I read, it's one of my ultimate favourites and I love all of her books. I'm totally here for Seth's series and getting his happy ending but there where a few niggles with this book that made me feel a bit iffy about it. The Josie and Seth drama that went on a bit too it's going to pop up next book because he hasn't told her something, and I feel like it's eclipsed other things in this book. I just feel like not much happened this book...we got a new demi-god but didn't see much of them...some other things happened and then there was the bombshell at the end that had me like nooooooooooo! So like half of me is excited for the next book but the other doesn't have as much excitement. 

Especially with the whole Josie's pregnant thing. Like every book I read recently, the main character ends up pregnant and I'm like....can we not. I really don't like it when a pregnancy is involved and the baby is quite clearly going to be a special snowflake, and it usually ends up making characters change completely. Like I don't know...maybe I have some form of Twilight/Breaking Dawn related PTSD about the whole thing, who knows. I was just so disappointed it took that turn especially as they've been having issues, and they haven't been together that long and then this happens and they're all fine and things are brilliant. I can just clearly see this going the Breaking Dawn way with the pregnancy and everything every time I picture this. 

All in all, there where a few disappointing developments, so I'm hoping in the next book that things will happen. More of Cora. More of what she and Gable can do. Consequences for Seth. More Alex and Aiden. More of Deacon and Luke. Apollo needs to stop being so crappy and make up for all his crappiness. I need for Josie to get a bit stronger. Sure she's training and everything but she still seems a bit not very good shall we say. I'd love to be able to ignore the pregnancy aspect but I'm just having huge flashbacks to Twilight whenever I think about it and I'm fairly sure I know how it's going to play out. So yes...disappointing. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Review: Red Sister

Red Sister
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive… 

With Red Sister we kick off a brand new series from Mark Lawrence, and while it took me a little bit to get in to it, it's promising to be a brilliant series! The Convent of Sweet Mercy, the main setting of the book, is a bit like a badass version of Hogwarts, but for nuns! It's brilliant! Red Sister kicks off with the best opening line I've come across recently too...."It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size." As soon as I read those words I was like okay....settle in, this is gonna be a good one! 

From what I can gather, this isn't as dark as Lawrence's other series, but I wouldn't know because they're on my TBR still, shhh! I'm going to start with the few little niggles I had that made this a four star rather than a five star read before I crack on with all the awesome bits! 

First off, like I mentioned, it took me a little bit to get in to because there are a lot of characters and I kept getting confused and forgetting who was who, especially as some of the nuns had two different names if they where a teacher. I basically found it hard to keep track and my brain got muddled, and added to that the book was a bit slow for most of it. Having heard brilliant things about Lawrence's dark books, this wasn't as dark as I was expecting, and I was a wee bit disappointed by that. But then..this is only book one and it did get pretty dark at the end, so maybe I should pace myself :') 

Now on to all the gloriousness of the book! I found the world to be very vividly created and rich. We only got to see a small portion of it as most of the action is set in the Convent, but we got to glimpse other parts. I'm so intrigued by the world of the book, and its history and who the Missing are and so on. I'm excited to find out more about the world and it's past in the next books! The magic system was epic, I was so intrigued by it! All the girls in the Convent are descended from one (or in some cases two or three) of four tribes, each tribe having a different ancient magic that the girl would possess. It was fascinating, especially as Nona has one type of magic, that is different for each person! There's basically plenty in this book to interest me and that I want to know more about! 

I really loved the nuns and their different classes, like I said, it was like a badass Hogwarts. Except for the geography lessons, I'd have preferred less of that and more of the Path lessons or Blade lessons. The problem was, that none of the interesting things kicked off until some point over halfway in to the book I think it was, so while all the nuns and the different lessons where fascinating at the start it reached a point where it slowed the whole book down and I was a wee bit bored waiting for everything to kick off. I know some setting up has to be done, but it seemed like there was too much time spent on the lessons and everything once we'd already established everything. 

Nona was a brilliant main character, it was interesting to have the story told from the perspective of the Shield, rather than The Chosen One! What I liked the most was that when we start the book off, we have mini Nona, and then she grows up and we see her grow up as she lives and trains at the Convent, and it was nice to journey with her as she grew up and as the story grew with her. She's brave, fiery and stubborn, and ridiculously loyal. Like she's loyal to Clera who's not a very good friend, and is a particularly shady person, but because she's Nona's friend Nona is loyal as hell to her. 

That's one of the nice things about the book, there's all the gory, stabby stabby scenes, but the cast of characters are mainly female. Now, there's competition and a little bit of cattiness at the beginning, BUT for the majority of the book, there's a lot of bonding and camaraderie between the girls, they work together, and look out for each other and help each other. I really enjoyed the female friendships in this book, I'm not going to lie! 

Like I said, there's a lot of female characters, I loved most of them! I really loved Arabella, in the beginning I really wanted to like her and was hoping she wasn't as much of a cow as she appeared and then I ended up loving her, and her friendship with Nona. I loved it. I can't even begin to find the words to describe how much I loved watching their friendship grow and what it was at the end! Your impression of Ara kind of changes as Nona's does, once the...interference goes away. I also really loved Hessa, brave and brilliant Hessa. I actually can't talk about her much right now, it hurts *ugly sobs* Abbess Glass was intriguing, and I want to know more about her past and her motives, there's more to her than meets the eye clearly. I also really loved Darla and how she ended up being a kind of older sister/friend to Nona, as well as the rest of Nona's group, Jula, Ruli etc. It was heartwarming seeing them all help Nona and banding together. 

I have to mention the nuns really quickly because they are so badass, especially Tallow, there's a scene and she has this line and I was like YAAAASSS! It was epic. I also really loved Apple and Kettle too! Apple was like the Snape of the Convent....but nicer. Mostly. Kettle I just loved for no reason other than she was pretty epic! I have to say, some of the things in this book reminded me a little of Nevernight, and Apple and her predilection for poisoning her own students did especially. 

As for characters I didn't like...well there's plenty of characters for you to love to hate. First up is Clera. I never liked her from the beginning, something with her didn't seem right to me and it wasn't long before it was confirmed. She's really not a good friend to Nona, she's only Nona's friend until things get hard or don't go her way. Like when Nona was in trouble at the beginning of the book she acted like she didn't even know her, and then at the end she only helped for her own purposes. She got shadier and shadier to me over the course of the book, and I had a sinking feeling I knew what was going to happen but I was still surprised because I was hoping she wouldn't go that far. I don't buy that she didn't know they were really there for Nona though. Not at all. Let's see if she's redeemable in the next book because it looks like Nona isn't going to give up on her! 

Zole I hated as soon as she made an appearance, but by the end of the book I wanted to like her and was looking for a reason to but I'm not sure how involved she is with the Plot by the Emperors sister. Who I also didn't like. The High Priest aka Jacob is a total love to hate character. He's a total d*** and I was rooting for him to get what was coming to him! The same can be said for good old Raymel who just won't stay down....or die. I have systematically hated every single Tacsis character in this book, Raymel most of all, and I'm anticipating hating them in every book. 

Despite the slowness to the first 50% of the book at least, and the focus on the Convent, the story of Nona's past and the different ways she tells it is one mini plot that keeps you intrigued until the point of the book when all the other sub plots kick in and things pick up! The book has some glorious political backstabbing going on, and dirty deals with Tacsis and so on, which was interesting but the sub plots coming in at the second half of the book where brilliant! They wove together and kept you guessing and hooked you right in. 

The prologue kept the intrigue up too, especially when it continues at the beginning of the second part of the book and you realise it's not the past you're seeing but the future. And who the character is...and then there's the little mini cliffhanger it has! I really enjoyed how the prologue provided a kind of mini story! You get a third and final part to it at the end of the book and all becomes clear and it got me so pumped up for book two to find out what's going to happen next! I've made some assumptions about how the prologue came about and I'm wondering if we'll see it in full in the next book, either way I'm intrigued by the direction this is heading! 

Red Sister may start off slow and focus a smidge too much on the lessons and such at the beginning but once you reach the point where the sub plots kick in and the monsters come out to play it gets gorily brilliant. I was completely hooked from that point and unable to turn the pages fast enough. There's poisoning, betrayal, stabbing, fighting, more stabbing and Nona has a fascinating and emotional struggle with her own inner monster. The finale is drenched in blood. Like....the pages should be dripping! There's some fantastic plot twists, a fresh take on The Chosen One thing, and an ending that'll leave you wanting more! 

Red Sister is an intriguing start to a new series, that promises to be full of blood and killer, stab happy nuns! 

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