Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Review: The Stars We Steal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Review: House of Earth and Blood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 18 May 2020

Manga: In/Spectre 11

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Manga: Edens Zero 6

Edens Zero Vol 6 
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

A young boy gazes up at the sky and sees a streaming bolt of light. The friendly, armour-clad being at his side tells him gently, 'That's a dragon.' The fact that he's joking isn't important. What's important is the look of wonder on the boy's face... and the galaxy-spanning adventure that's about to take place!  

As we embark on Volume 6 of Edens Zero we just have Valkyrie left to locate! In order to locate Valkyrie the crew heads off to the time oracle to try and get some help, though before that there's a nice ominous tone regarding one of Elsie's crew members and a couple of familiar faces! 

Volume 6 has a good amount of action to keep you hooked as we have a fighting competition going on. It was nice to see each of the crew's various different approaches to battle and see their own skills shine for a change. I think the standout was Homura as we get to delve into her background and how she came to be with Valkyrie, there's been plenty of mystery around her and some of that mystery was illuminated in this volume. 

There's also the addition of a shady new captain to the crew whom I have such a bad feeling about, it's not even funny! I'll have to wait until next volume to see what horror he's going to unleash on the crew! There's also something odd going on as the crew venture's to a new planet. 

The crew are getting closer to finding Valkyrie but it seems the bad guys are also closing in! The volume easily speeds along and holds your attention with the action scattered throughout and the ominous hints of story lines to come in future volumes! 

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Manga: Fairy Tail 100 Years Quest 3

Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest Vol 3 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review! 

A wizard's job is never done! Get fired up for the official sequel to Fairy Tail, with story and layouts by original creator Hiro Mashima himself. Natsu, Lucy, Happy, Erza, and the whole Fairy Tail guild are back in action! And they've decided to tackle the '100 Years Quest' - a job no one's dared take on since the founding of the guild more than a century ago. A mysterious town, a baffling spirit, a ghastly new enemy... and a brand new continent to explore. When you're with real friends, the adventures never stop!

100 Years Quest provides us with another excellent volume in the series and there's action from the start which is to be expected at this point. What got me excited about this particular volume, however, was the plot twist that happens pretty early on in the volume....a dragon shaped plot twist to be precise! I'm really enjoying the dragon element in this series and loving the focus on them, as much as I love the magic element, and if you've read the main series then you're in for a surprise that will have your jaw dropping! Even I was reading it like...whaaaaaat!? At which point it's time to try to get over the surprise and settle in properly for the rest of the volume because this series is getting so good! 

While I was excited and enjoying this new series, I was also wondering what new things could be brought in to keep it going and keep it fresh, aside from the dragons! (Speaking of, we're already introduced to a second one in this volume!) Then the plot twist happened and I was like 'aaaah I see' and any slight skepticism I might have had has now vanished and I'm even more excited to see where this is going to go now. 

There's a nice, epic battle to enjoy and the high of completing a mission but there's also ominous hints scattered here and there; Natsu and his behaviour, the guild master for Diabolos and then what's happening back at the Fairy Tail Guild. There's even a glimpse of what's to come with a quick intro to the dragons that got me so excited! While I did find the doppelgängers funny, I was also a bit like...okay gimme the dragons again! I feel like this volume really takes a turn for the fanfic with the doppelgängers and Grey's in particular! Nalu and Gruvia shippers are going to have plenty to screech over too. 

While we have some fun and relax along with the characters, things kick off once again towards the end of the volume both with another guild member popping up and then with the next dragon already being introduced which leaves you excited for the next volume and what's to come. 

If you've been on the fence about this series, this is the volume that's going to cement your interest! 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...