Monday, 20 February 2017

Review: Elantris

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


The capital of Arelon, the home to people transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod.

But then the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks.

And in the new capital, Kae, close enough to Elantris for everyone to be reminded of what they have lost, a princess arrives. Sarene is to be married to unite Teod and Arelon against the religious imperialists of Fjordell. But she is told that Raoden, her husband to be, is dead.

Determined to carry on the fight for Teod and Arelon's freedom, Sarene clashes with the high priest Hrathen. If Hrathen can persuade the populace to convert, Fjordell will reign supreme.

But there are secrets in Elantris, the dead and the ruined may yet have a role to play in this new world. Magic lives. 

So, I've been curious about Brandon Sandersons books. I've read The Final Empire and completely loved it, I seriously need to finish the series! But I hadn't read any other books by him and everyone raves about him so much so I jumped at the chance to review the 10th anniversary edition of Elantris. Little did I know it was going to become one of my all time favourite books. Seriously. I loved this book SO much, it's ridiculous and it's left me with a burning need to grab all of his other books and hole up for weeks until I've read everything! 

The prologue is short but sweet, piquing your interest and sucking you in, followed by one of the best opening lines I've come across. "Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity." It was from that point on that I was totally hooked and found it impossible to put the book down. I read this in a couple of sittings, and I actually had to force myself to put the book down at 4am one time so I could get a few hours of sleep! I'd completely lost track of time because I was so focused on the book, completely lost in the world and the plot. 

The world of Elantris is cinematic, the settings rise up in vivid and often gritty and grim detail to surround you. You find yourself walking the same streets as the characters, observing the scenes as another spectator. I loved how rich and vivid the world was, even when it was the rather grimmer aspects. The world really came to life, as did its people, and the atmosphere to the book also really helped to bring it to life. You find yourself completely immersed in the world, picturing everything perfectly! 

Raoden. He surprised me immediately. I was kind of expecting him to be a big, pampered baby, but he was completely badass in his own way. He never gave up, he gave everyone hope and kept everyone going and he was super intelligent. He did after all, solve the giantly huge mystery no-one else wanted to touch with a barge pole. He was so determined, it was inspiring. I loved how he kept referring to Sarene as his wife, and I seriously wanted to smack him one like 'TELL HER THE TRUTH. NOW". He and Sarene really brought the feels, I'm not going to lie, because he viewed her how she'd never thought she would be, and he was such a brilliant character. I NEED MORE. 

AS for Sarene, I loved her immediately. I found her so relatable, and at one point she oddly reminded me of a Jane Austin heroine with her intelligence and her wit and some of what she had to say. I just loved her. She was determined, fierce, courageous and she made me laugh. So much. I loved reading about her and rooting for her, which I could do 100% and not even feel bad about. I genuinely got choked up at one point because I related to her and what she was feeling and thinking so much, in her inner monologue. 

I'm not going to lie, I really, really shipped Sarene and Raoden and I avidly read all of their interactions together. They're so perfect for each other, but Raoden wouldn't open his mouth and say one little sentence so it was amusing watching them interact while Sarene didn't know who he was. I was rooting for them because of Sarene and how she felt, but they genuinely went so well together as a couple. They're both intelligent, and witty and they want to help the people. I ship it so hard. Having said that, the romance isn't at all the main focus of the book, it's there but it's subtle and quiet and you don't really see it much, but it was present enough to make it work! 

Our third MC, Hrathen was such an interesting voice. On the one hand, he's trying to save the people and he genuinely thinks he's doing the right thing. He thinks he's on the right side and it was interesting to read about him when you see him from a different perspective when you read Sarenes POV. On the other hand, he's kind of forcing his religious beliefs on people and trying to stir up some political unrest and what not. And you know...he's totally working for the bad guys. I just found his POV oddly fascinating, and a nice contrast to Sarene and Raoden. Although at one point I was flat out rooting for him because Dilaf bugged the hell out of me. I loved his 'game' that he was playing with Sarene and how the pair interacted, I just loved watching them play off from each other! 

I loved so many of the supporting characters as well! Like Sarenes group! Shuden, Roial, Eondel, Kiin, Lukel and Ahan. I loved how they respected Sarene and went along with her and supported her plans. I loved reading all of their banter and interactions and watching the dynamic between them. They where an interesting and colourful bunch of people, each different from the other. All intelligent and trying to save the country from being completely destroyed. I loved Galladon and Karata and how Karata completely blew me away from what I was expecting. I enjoyed watching them warm up to Raoden and overcome the struggles they faced to work together. Damn this book had such a brilliant cast! 

As I was reading, I was immediately drawn in to the complex web of politics and religion. There are so many twists and turns to this book, and I gasped out loud more than once because I couldn't not react. There's a tonne of political manoeuvring but rather than being dry and complicated and boring, it's fascinating and it hooks you in and you become completely involved in trying to work out who's going to do what, and what that persons action is going to achieve, and how it'll affect that character, and rooting for Sarene and her group as they try to fix everything. Sandersons writing is compelling, and when faced with a book of this's intimidating. But he makes it so easy to sit and read giant chunks of this book and to want to keep on reading. I really do enjoy his writing. 

I have to mention that this book made me super tense more than once, and I was sat there shouting "NO DON'T DO IT" so many times. There where serious parts, and there was humour to offset all the politics and the other emotional parts. I also found this book to have a strangely magical quality. Which is odd considering you don't even see magic used properly until right at the end of the book. I don't know what it was, but it just felt magical as I was reading. I loved the bonus content, the list of symbols and information about the AonDor, plus the deleted scenes that showed what a very different book it could have been! 

Elantris is fantastically written, and it has such a brilliant ending. But it still leaves you wanting more and I don't know about you guys, but I could totally go for a sequel! This book has immediately become one of my all time favourites, and it has such a brilliant combination of twists, action, rich history, politics and a tiny smidgen of romance that it completely hooks you in and immerses you in the story and characters, and the vividly painted world. 


Friday, 10 February 2017

Review: Fireborn

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

Bree and Kael Skyborn have seen their island invaded, their Seraphim disbanded, and their royal family imprisoned.

A rebellion grows from the ashes, demanding Bree to be their Phoenix, their symbol against Center's tyranny, and for Kael to find the doomsday prophet Johan and sway his cult to their side.

Should they fail, the hope of their rebellion fails with them. 

Okay, I was intrigued by both Skyborn and Fireborn, the synopsis for the first book wasn't much, same as the synopsis for Fireborn, they both hint at things; So I had no real idea of what to expect when I went in to the book but it blew me away...but not as much as Fireborn did with its killer ending and the way it built up the world even more, and added to the plot! 

Skyborn sucked you in, introducing you to this original and imaginative world unlike anything you'd entered before. Dalglish skilfully built the world up around you, the settings taking form around you. He added some politics here, and some history there. Enough to keep you informed, and leave you wanting to know more. He introduced you to the characters, the politics and how it all worked with threads of mystery woven throughout about characters, the past and the world, not to mention the plot itself. He brought us the shadowy figure of Johan. But all the while there was the sense of something deeper woven throughout, just out of reach, piquing your curiosity. Then it came to a crescendo with its grand finale, of Titanic proportions and I mean the ship not the size. The ending was truly incredible and cinematic and left you wanting more. 

Fireborn hooks you from the first page, and you're straight in with the action from the start. I loved getting Jay's point of view at the beginning and I loved how that entire scene was done. It was genuinely like I'd cracked open the book and a movie started to play across the pages. So damn cinematic and atmospheric. The plot grabs you even more in this book, you get answers sure, but you also get questions. 

Dalglish brings the character of Johan out of the shadows and in to the light. But you spend most of the book not being entirely sure if he's a good guy or a bad guy, and the same can be said for the Speaker. I loved the sense of being on edge, not sure who to trust. Not sure who's the one telling the truth, because it's what the characters where feeling throughout as they discovered lies and tried to work out who to trust. I will admit, I was so glad they weren't stupid enough to reveal all their secrets to certain people! 

The author adds more layers to the world of the book. In Skyborn we got the world, and we thought we knew how it worked and what this or that was. In Fireborn the author turns it all on its head with some amazing reveals. Everything that was added to the world and how it works, the politics and history completely changed the way I thought this story was going and took it in a different and pleasantly surprising direction. There are genuinely so many game changing revelations in this book about the world and the characters, book three is going to be intense! 

I continue to love Kael and Bree both individually, and together as a team. I understand 100% how Kael feels, Bree is The Phoenix, and he's just Kael. I think we can all feel for him and get where he's coming from, but what surprised me in the best way was that rather than start to resent her for it and go all dark side, or just start to be a bit of an arse.....he still fully supported Bree, he was still there for her and damn. I love the two of them. Their loyalty to each other, their determination and how human they are. They're so relatable and so authentic, you can truly understand them and where they're coming from and their reactions, I think, are very like what you or I might have in their situation. I've loved watching them grow and change over the course of the two books, and I'm intrigued to see what's going to happen to them in the third book. I'm hoping they'll keep a united front, I'll be disappointed if they turn on each other! And I'm excited to see what else they discover about themselves. I think they've both changed so much since Skyborn, and I think they have the potential to develop even more with what they can do! 

I have to say, I was really glad to see Saul being redeemed in this book! I didn't really like him all that much in Skyborn, but in this book I was rooting for him along with everyone else. I also kind of low key ship him and Bree, I'm not going to lie. I feel like both of them changed a lot from the place they where at in Skyborn and it'd be interesting to see the two of them together. But you know, romance isn't the sole focus of this book, it's in the background or casually thrown in. Kael and Clara are still going strong, and I do love the two of them together as well, I'm incredibly intrigued to see where Clara's going to go as a character after the end of Fireborn and what it means for her! 

There's plenty of other characters in this book that we get to see more of, and get to know more. Plus there's a tonne of new characters, although in order to make room for them we had to say goodbye to some of the old ones and I'm still devastated about some of them. Brutally realistic, and everything...but still. It's always the characters I love the most! 

Fireborn is a brilliant sequel and I have to say, for me it surpassed the first book because it really changed the game. I fell completely in to the world of the book, it was vivid and atmospheric, the writing was brilliant. The book is just so imaginative and original, I knew I was going to like it, and I have to say I haven't read anything quite like it that I can recall. There's a fast pace and so much action, there's so many plot twists and revelations that'll leave you gasping and the ending. I can't even. The ending completely threw everything on it's head. I had been so convinced I'd worked out who was good and who was bad and then the ending happened and I was like "DAMNIT". I feel like the twins have come a long way and they really come in to their own in this book. I have to say, that I am incredibly excited for the third book, and I have to thank Nazia at Orbit hugely for introducing me to this series, because I might never have discovered it otherwise! 


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Review: Geekerella

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

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. 

I have to say, this book was exactly what I needed when I was having a bad day on Monday! It was easy to read, it was cute, it made me want to keep reading, I loved the pure geekiness of it and just...the warm and fuzzies....the previously mentioned cute...I can't even! 

I immediately felt at home reading this book, it's so nerdy. So nerdy. But also so true and so authentic because of that. I think we're all a fan of at least one thing to the level that Elle is, or used to be or whatever. We've all been there. It reminded me a little bit of All The Feels and Cinder and Ella, kinda like a combination of both, but with its own spin to it which made it fun! 

I loved Elle she was so relatable, and so was Darien. They where easy to empathise with, you understood their motivations and their actions. I really felt for Elle more than once, she didn't have it easy and she was a lot more chill about it than a lot of us would be I think! Darien had a lot of crap to deal with too, admittedly it did come from him living the dream but still! I also really, really loved Sage! I wasn't sure I was going to at first but then you got to know her along with Elle and she was brilliant. She cracked me up more than once, especially with what she did to James and she really has Elle's back despite not having known her very long! I was rooting for the friendship as much as the romance. 

Geekerella was funny and yet emotional at times. It was nostalgic and authentic and incredibly relatable for all of us nerds! Although you know....the character Darien's playing didn't get whitewashed and with how things currently are, I hate to say it but that probably wouldn't have happened in real life! Geekerella was a lot of fun, it made me miss writing and fangirling and it was genuinely just what I needed. It picked my mood right up and the ending was perfect and so much more realistic than many others! 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Review: Conspiracy of Ravens

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

Nettie Lonesome made a leap -- not knowing what she'd become. But now the destiny of the Shadow is calling.

A powerful alchemist is leaving a trail of dead across the prairie. And the Shadow must face the ultimate challenge: side with her friends and the badge on her chest or take off alone on the dangerous mission pulling her inexorably toward the fight of her life.

When it comes to monsters and men, the world isn't black and white. What good are two wings and a gun when your enemy can command a conspiracy of ravens? 

I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about these books, mostly because when I read the first book I was expecting it to be a fantasy and then it was a fantasy but it was all western and completely unexpected! But I have to say, I really do love Rhett. I've enjoyed watching Nettie come to terms with who he is in the first book, and in this book he accepts himself as Rhett. In the first book I was never sure which pronoun to use but in this book Rhett decides to be Rhett. 

Conspiracy of Ravens picks up right where Wake of Vultures ended, and we get a new character in the form of Earl, an Irish man who was working for the railway! We also get Cora, a Chinese girl (I totally squealed when I worked out which 'monster' she was) who's also working for the railway. Not voluntarily of course! I loved getting new additions to Rhett's posse and I'm interesting to see how everyone is going to get on after the end of this instalment in the Shadow saga. Earl of course, spent a lot of time with the posse but because of his worry and fear he wasn't his best self all the time, so I'm intrigued to see what he'll be like and how he'll interact with the others in the next book! Likewise Cora because there is a love tangle. Yep. 

I'm not sure how I feel about the love tangle. I kinda ship Rhett and Sam if I'm honest, so I'm not really here for all the love interests popping up everywhere! I do think that Winifred is my least favourite option, especially after Dan's warning. So yeah. Sam or Cora, if Sam really isn't an option. But I felt like brining in so many love interests was getting a bit out of hand at one point, because the plot in this book moves slowly and we had all this stuff going on, and then love interests left, right and centre until we finally got to the part where all the action was going to happen. I was a bit like "yeah great...can we get to the action now?!" 

Most of the book is genuinely spent getting to the location where the action is going to happen, so I did find myself losing interest a little bit because I was waiting for something to happen. I did like how the book ended, the set up in the beginning was necessary and I know that, it just made the book harder for me to read at points. But the set up left plenty of threads for the next book, and the ending definitely left me wanting more! I'm intrigued to see what's going to happen next with Rhett and his posse, and how they're going to defeat the bad guy and what exactly the bad guy is after?! 

Like I said, with Wake of Vultures I wasn't entirely sure whether or not I liked it or not, having expected a fantasy and gotten a Western, but I found myself liking it a lot more this time around. It's a diverse book, we have Chinese, Native American and Native American/Black characters, one of which is the main character which made a nice change. I think it's an interesting setting to have those characters in considering how Native Americans where treated in the West, as well as other minority groups. They didn't have a pleasant time of it and I do think that they perhaps get treated a little better in this book than they would have in real life.

The author uses language that's authentic to the time, and helps to create an atmosphere and build up the world. I found myself slipping in to the world of this book a lot better than the previous book. I was sad not to see much of the Captain as he pleasantly surprised me last book, and again this book! I'm hoping nothing bad happens to him but we'll see! I enjoy seeing the different kinds of 'monsters' that the author brings to life, both well known and lesser. I found it interesting to see how the Irish and Chinese where treated in the West, the authors note points out that they where the people mostly used to create the railway, and they didn't have a great time of it. 

I'm enjoying this blend of fantasy and Western more and more as the books go on, and I really do love Rhett as a main character. He's been interesting to read about and I admire his bravery and determination to do what's right. I could do without the love tangle, especially as it was put in during the slow part of the plot and I was feeling like we could have gotten to the action a lot sooner if it hadn't been. The pace is steady, but the first half if not more of the book was spent setting up and I don't usually do well with slow paced books, but it was necessary and provided the threads to bring us the third book! 

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