Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

empire of storms

Title: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Date: 6th September 2016

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Brace yourselves…this is a long one.

I finished this book a couple of days ago and I still can’t put into words how much this blew me away. It was amazing. Everything fell into place, and I couldn’t believe how it all fit together. We were reminded of events that took place back in the first book and I was just shocked at how Sarah J. Maas had planned it all. This is a series that has had so much thought put into it, and into every character that Aelin has come into contact with from the very beginning. Empire of Storms saw some of my favourites finally meeting, under some pretty tense circumstances mind you. There will probably be some spoilers from the previous books mentioned in this review.

After finally defeating the King of Adarlan and winning the throne for Dorian, Aelin sets out to Terrasen with Rowan, Aedion and Lysandra by her side, ready to face whatever waits for her. With darkness growing in Morath, Aelin knows she must build an army if she ever hopes to defeat Erawan, but the path isn’t easy. With Prince Rowan at her side, she believes she can do anything it takes, sacrifice whatever she has to. Other forces are working against her, pushing in from all sides, and Aelin realises she will have to do the unexpected if she is to keep those she loves alive.

This is a huge book and so much happens that I’m finding it hard to figure out where to start. The world building, as always, is amazing and I loved that we got to see more of Erilea in Empire of Storms. We got to see the infamous Skull’s Bay, where there a pirates and a great battle that was too awesome for words (Lysandra really shines in this part) and we get to visit the eerie Stone Marshes where Aelin’s search for help takes her. I love the descriptions and I can always picture everything perfectly.

I won’t lie though, there were some parts of this book where I was worried. It dragged for a little during the beginning to middle, where not a lot happened. Well, it kicked into an extremely high gear once I passed the halfway point and I didn’t want to put it down. There is so much action and magic being wielded by the characters, and everyone gets their chance to shine. While Aelin is incredibly powerful, and always looking for ways to extend her magic to last longer, it was great to see more of Dorian and how he has been affected by what’s happened. His magic is probably the most interesting to me, and I hope to see more of it in the future.

I love a fantasy book with good romance, and Empire of Storms has just that (with some steamy sex scenes too). I have grown to love Aelin and Rowan together (even though I was firmly team Chaol for the first two/three books) but I felt like it was too much. Rowan was a bit too clingy and always wanting to be around her, which I understand is a Fae male thing, but I didn’t like it that much. I think my favourite would be what happens between Dorian and Manon (who is my favourite character). Ever since she saved Dorian, he has had her on his mind and I loved reading their interactions. They way he calls her Witching, and she calls him Princeling, just makes me very happy. There is a little slow burn romance going on between two characters and another love to hate one, but I don’t want to spoil the fun too much.

Empire of Storms has a huge cast of characters, and if I were to talk about every one then I would be here forever (and I don’t think you’d want to hear me rambling on). Let’s start with who is probably the most important. Aelin was…a struggle for me in this book. I want to like her but she does some stupid things and isn’t a great person at times. I just found myself getting a little bored of her and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I felt the other characters had more to offer. However, the revelation that was about her just blew my mind and I have no idea what is going to happen to her. I could feel how tense I was when reading and when I reached the end…well, I’m just annoyed that I don’t find anything out about what happens in Tower of Dawn because I know it’s just about Chaol.

Enter the second strongest female character in the series, Manon Blackbeak. I love her and everything she stands for. Her character arc was incredible in the book and I have loved seeing her grow as a woman throughout the last three books, and how her views on the world are constantly changing. Some shocking events took place that changed her in this book, mainly being renounced as the Blackbeak heir (but I won’t say how), and this is all about her finding out who she is and what she wants. It doesn’t disappoint and I hope to see a lot more of her in Kingdom of Ash.

We also see a lot more of Elide in this book, having escaped the clutches of Morath and journeying to find Celaena Sardothien, with a little help from Lorcan, one of Maeve’s subjects. They were very interesting to read about and I enjoyed learning more about them, especially because they are fairly new characters to the series. Then there was Aedion and Lysandra, two more amazing supporting characters. While Aedion is amazing and cares so much for Aelin, it is Lysandra who will truly do anything for her Queen. She goes through hell and proves just how strong she is, which was inspiring to read.

I don’t want to mention about the evil forces too much, mainly Erawan and Maeve, because I don’t want to spoil what happens, but I will say this…Maeve is the worst and a tyrant. What she does…I can’t even think about it. If you’ve read this book then you’ll know what I’m talking about. The second half of Empire of Storms is the best, and just kicks everything up a notch. We have a few surprise characters that make an appearance, which I wasn’t expecting, and we finally learn why all of it has been happening to the characters.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it really progressed the series. In a book this big, so much happens that it’s hard to talk about it all. I could probably go on for a while, but I can honestly say that I am so excited to read the next two and to find out what will happen. I just want a happy ending for some of the characters, that’s all I ask. I’m going to give Empire of Storms a solid four stars.

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Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

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Title: Ruin and Rising (Grishaverse #3)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Date: 17th June 2014

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I had been waiting to finish this trilogy off since I read Siege and storm a little while ago and it was great to finally do so. Ruin and Rising was everything I wanted it to be, and the ending was perfect for me. It’s always bittersweet to say goodbye to characters, but at least I can carry on reading about the world in Six of Crows and find out more about Nikolai when King of Scars comes out next year (which I am super excited for).  As this is the third in the series there will be spoilers, as I reference events that happened previously.

After the attack in Siege and Storm, Alina and her followers have been pushed underground while the Darkling rules over Ravka. Hiding within a network of tunnels, the Sun Summoner is under the protection of the Apparat and those who worship her, but they do not know that she is broken. Unable to conjure the light, she must wait until her plan to escape takes place. She has to find the firebird, the third and final amplifier, so that she can rise against the Darkling and save Ravka. There is also the matter of finding the outlaw prince, who is said to be causing havoc above ground. A desperate race begins as they all put old rivalries aside to find the one thing that can save them all, but it will come at a cost.

After the second book, which was a little slow in places, I felt that Ruin and Rising set a great pace from the beginning, building with each chapter as we anticipate the final battle between Alina and the Darkling. You could feel the desperation of Alina and her friends, as well as the torment that they endure at the hands of the Darkling. So many lives have been lost throughout the series, and we can see how broken the world is. I’ve always loved the way Bardugo makes the world so vivid, and I think that she is a great writer. Not the best where this series is concerned (I read her collection of tales first) but I have really enjoyed the trilogy, and how each book focuses on finding one of the amplifiers.

There were definitely some unexpected events, mainly to do with Nikolai and the search for the firebird. I love that I never really knew what was going to happen and during the last 50 or so pages, when the battle was taking place, I found myself reading even quicker to find out what would happen. It didn’t disappoint in the slightest and the characters got the ending that they deserved. I also liked the way the Darkling was portrayed in this final instalment and the way we got to see another side of him (but I won’t spoil that for you).

Alina has had quite a bit of development from when we first met her in Shadow and Bone, where she was a lot weaker and didn’t always speak her mind. Now she can’t seem to stop, and while she was harsh in places it was interesting to see how she handled the power that she had. With the fate of Ravka resting on her shoulders, she became obsessed with finding the third amplifier, as anyone would in her position. She has lost a lot during the course of the series and the third book isn’t any different, with a final sacrifice that I wasn’t expecting.

Then we have Mal, a character I grew to dislike very much in the second book, but seemed to do a massive turn around in this book. While he used to be selfish and a bit of an ass, it was great to see him become more caring. It was also interesting to see Mal and Alina trying to mend their strained and slightly broken relationship. Of course, I absolutely love Nikolai, although I didn’t love some of the things that happened to him. The fact that he is getting his own series is the best news ever because I need more of his sass and charm.

The dialogue between the characters is amazing and I feel that is where Bardugo really shines. I always find myself smiling and laughing at the banter between the characters, and Zoya really surprised me as I found myself beginning to like her. And of course, we have Baghra making her appearance with her snarky comments which never fail to make me chuckle. I wished I could’ve gotten to know the other characters more throughout the series, and seen more of their interactions.

Overall, I felt that Ruin and Rising was a great way to end the trilogy, and it has made me so excited to move onto Six of Crows next. I can’t get enough of this world that Leigh Bardugo has created! This is a five star read for me!

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Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

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Title: Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

Author: Amanda Foody

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Date: 10th April 2018

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I am so grateful that I got the chance to read Ace of Shades, and a big thank you to HQ Young Adult for approving me on NetGalley. I was sent the UK edition to review (this cover is the US one) and although I missed reading it before the release date (17th May) it didn’t stop me from really enjoying this book. I flew through this in less than 48 hours, that’s how great this story is.

Enne Salta is poised and proper, having been brought up the right way by her mother to become a lady. The last place she would ever be seen is New Reynes, the City of Sin, but that’s exactly where she needs to go. When she realises that her mother has gone missing, Enne travels to the last place that she visited, unsure of what she will find. There she asks for help from Levi Glaisyer, street lord to one of the three gangs of New Reynes, the Irons. Levi has his own motivations for wanting to help, mainly taking compensation from Enne to dig himself out of some trouble with the mafia. Mysteries begin to unravel as they visit the casinos, cabarets and alleys searching for clues, until they are led to the clutches of the mafia donna. It’s a race against time for both of them and they’ll both need to play their cards right if they’re to get out alive.

When it comes to the writing, I thought it was very well written with a great pace that kept me hooked. I loved the mystery that surrounded the characters, especially Enne, and how we were drip fed bits of information here and there, which kept me hooked and invested in the story. I am a big fan of multiple POVs in books and I really enjoyed how the perspectives switched between Enne and Levi so we got to see more aspects of the world that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

The world of New Reynes felt so real thanks to the descriptive writing and I definitely got Las Vegas vibes from it. The casinos and cabarets were described perfectly and I felt as though I was there with the characters, thanks to the colour and imagery. There’s a bit of info-dump in the beginning, but eventually I managed to wrap my head around the way the world works. There are three gangs that rule the streets, the Doves, the Irons and the Scarhands, and then we have the two major crime families; the Augustines and the Torrens. Each gang specialises in something unique that makes them all as deadly as each other.

The fantasy aspect of this book was so interesting. Everybody has an ability of some kind. Some only have one, but most of two with one being secondary to the other. Your surname predicts what your ability is, such as Salta, which means that you have a dancing ability. This features quite a bit in the story and makes up some of the mystery that surrounds the characters as not all is as it seems. There are also talents that are more magical, such as having an affinity for fire or being able to read minds, etc. It’s a very intriguing system that may seem complicated at first, but I can’t wait to see how it develops in the second book.

At first I wasn’t sure about Enne, but when the story got going I found myself being able to connect more with her. She definitely had great character development, especially towards the end, and it was interesting to see how she reacted to everything that was going on around her. Then we have Levi, the gang leader who isn’t anything like I thought he would be, and that’s a good thing! He was incredibly protective of those he cared about and only wanted the best for them, even if he couldn’t give it to them. In the story Levi has gotten himself into some trouble with the Torrens that he is desperate to get out of and we see that desperation grow throughout the story, bringing him down. Another fact about Levi is that he is also bisexual, which is great to see that representation in novels for people like him, and I feel it made him more interesting as a character.

I loved all the mystery that surrounded Enne’s mother, Lourdes, and the way her story unfolded. Even though she wasn’t present in the story, I still had a great idea of who and what she was through the eyes of the other characters. As with every good fantasy story, we have some great villains who are devious and wicked. The head of the Augustine family was particularly nasty with a spiteful nature that rang true. I can’t wait to find out more about these characters, especially a certain one that was introduced right at the very end.

No book is ever perfect and Ace of Shades doesn’t pretend to be. There are some things I would have liked to know more about, but I am hoping they can crop up during the sequel. Overall, I thought that this book was a fun and interesting read, with characters that intrigued me enough that I want to know more. I am going to give this a solid four stars.

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Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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Title: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publisher: Walker Books

Date: 1st February 2018

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I finally did it. I finally found a sci-fi book that I fell head over heels for. I had heard of so many people loving this book, and while I was hesitant at first I decided to give it a try. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, mainly because I can’t get into it, but from the get go I was hooked by Scythe. It is such a unique book, with an incredible world that feels so similar, yet foreign to us as a reader. There were little references to things we have into our world now, and Shusterman has created characters that I rooted for and that I cared about.

All of the world’s problems have been solved. There is no more hunger and poverty, no war and disease, no more pain and death. The Thunderhead has created a perfect world that is safe for everyone in it. To curb over-population the Scythedom was created, granting Scythes the power to ‘glean’ people. Due to strange circumstances, both Citra and Rowan have been chosen to become scythe apprentices under Honorable Scythe Faraday. Neither wanted this, but now they must master the art of being a Scythe in order to save their lives. For it has been decided that only one can become a fully-fledged Scythe and must glean the other.

I really enjoyed learning about how the Thunderhead came about. It was once the ‘cloud’, which I’m assuming is a reference to software we have now, and it grew to become this all-seeing thing. It has taken control from the governments who are no more, and it protects its citizens, although people are still scared of it. However, the Thunderhead has no control over the Scythedom, which is a really interesting concept given what happens in this novel.

The idea that there is no death is so strange. Of course, accidents do happen but there are revival centres that can bring you back to life. And if you reach the age of 80 and dislike the way you look, you can take a ‘turn’ and go back to being young again. Essentially you could live forever, and it made me wonder what it would be like to live in this world. Honestly, I’m not quite sure I would like it.

Scythe Faraday was a really interesting character, especially with his approach to gleaning. Each scythe has a different technique that they use to glean, and his involves a lot of data and using lots of different weapons. It’s actually quite fascinating how he chooses the people to glean by seeing the statistics of certain deaths in our day and age, then choosing someone who fits into them. He was a really unexpected character that I wish to see more of.

Something that I thought was a great addition to the story was the diary excerpts from infamous Scythes that were before each new chapter. The content in them was often reflected in the story and the people who wrote them eventually feature in the story prominently. I won’t give too much away, but those characters were so intriguing, and I hope I can find out more about them in the sequel.

Then we have Citra and Rowan. The book is mainly in their perspectives, and shows how they handle the circumstances they have been thrust into. Something happens that causes them to drift and from that point on the story is tense because we have no idea what is going to happen. Even towards the end there are plot twists that I didn’t see coming and I loved every one! I think Citra was my favourite, mainly because she was fierce and didn’t take any crap, although I felt sorry for Rowan at some points in the story.

This book is so addictive and I couldn’t get enough of the world. The ending hooked me and I couldn’t order Thunderhead quick enough! On the front cover of my edition, Maggie Stiefvater said that it was a ‘true successor to The Hunger Games’ and I agree with her. I definitely got that kind of vibe so if you enjoyed that series and love dystopian sci-fi worlds, I would recommend reading Scythe. It was so easy to give this book a solid five stars.

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Review: Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

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Title: Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3)

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Publisher: Razorbill

Date: 9th December 2014

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As soon as I finished reading Rebel Spring I dove straight into Gathering Darkness and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. This series has me hooked with how unpredictable it is. Nobody is safe in this story and that is shown with multiple deaths, and characters dying who I thought would be around for a lot longer.

Magic features a lot more in this book and there is more mystery surrounding the kindred, the four magical stones that can restore magic to the Sanctuary, and give power to those that wield them. I can see a lot of the comparisons to Game of Thrones, although I have never read the books and I gave up watching the TV show. This is less bloody deaths, no graphic sex scenes (great for if you’re not into that) and characters who I enjoy reading about. Bear in mind that my review will contain spoilers.

The stakes are higher than ever for the characters in Gathering Darkness as they hurry to find the Kindred. After learning of Princess Lucia’s powers, Princess Cleo and the rebel Jonas team together to use her magic to their advantage and search for the Kindred before Lucia’s father has a chance to take them. But they aren’t the only ones looking for it. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from Kraeshia, are also manipulating their way into finding the magical stones and are proving to be more ruthless that they first seemed. Then there are the Watchers, mystical beings who have hunted the Kindred for hundreds of years, and are now setting foot on land and allying with the King. They know that Lucia is they key to finding the Kindred and they will stop at nothing until they have them. Prince Magnus has learned the truth about his family and has been betrayed by those he loves. Now, he has to decide which side to join.

So much happened in this book and although I finished it a few days ago now, I am still thinking about that ending. Unexpected information was revealed about the Kindred that completely changes everything, especially for the next book in the series (which I don’t have yet). I loved the way Lucia used her magic to find the stones and how everything finally made sense, especially with the road and the strange things that happened on it.

There was a lot more action and killing in this book, with some of the deaths very unexpected. You never really know who had good or bad intentions and I love that about it, especially towards the end. The Kraeshians were a welcome mix to the story, changing it up, and there was a lot of betrayal going on. We also see a lot more of Melenia, a Watcher who is hell bent on finding the Kindred for her own reasons, which we find out in this story, as well as the real story of the Goddesses (it was amazing to know the truth). Everything made sense and yet at the same time I still have so many questions!

While I enjoy most of the characters and root for them with all my heart, there are still some I don’t like. I’m all for rebels, but when you are terrible at it (*cough cough* Jonas) it can be a little painful. I can feel myself losing interest in his side of the story and felt he didn’t contribute much in Gathering Darkness. But then there is Cleo and Magnus, two of my favourites in the whole story. Cleo is definitely getting her confidence back and is taking risks to fight for what she wants. She makes some bold moves and takes the lead with the rebels (go her). Then we have Magnus, who does some very unexpected things in this book and by the end I found myself falling for him as a character. I hope that in the next few books he can become the hero we all want him to be.

Lucia is still an enigma and often acts completely crazy, mainly due to her magic, but I think we would all be the same if everyone was trying to use us to find the Kindred. The only person she feels she can trust is the Watcher, Alexius, but even then we find that he has a dark secret of his own. There are a lot of revelations in this book and I can only imagine that there will be more in the next.

Overall, I am still obsessed with this series and I am loving the direction it is taking. There is so much back-stabbing, people changing sides, and secrets that you can’t think straight. This series brings out a lot of emotion in me and I can’t remember the last time I felt this way about one. All I know is that I cannot wait to get my hands on the last three books. 4.5 stars for me on this one!

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Review: Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

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Title: Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms #2)

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Publisher: Razorbill

Date: 3rd December 2013

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This series is addictive. It’s been a while since I fell hard for a story and something about this world and these characters has captured my attention. I enjoyed Falling Kingdoms so much that I went straight ahead and bought the second and third (although now that I’ve read them I am regretting not buying the full series).I love Fantasy as a genre and this has the best of everything. Thrilling twists, revenge, romance and a world that seems so real. I only wish that I had read it a lot sooner. Be warned, there will be spoilers for the first book.

Taking place after the events that led to the downfall of Auranos and the death of their King, King Gaius has taken control of all of Mytica, thanks to the magic of Princess Lucia, his adopted daughter. Princess Cleo, the rightful heir to Auranos, is held against her will by the tyrant and forced to show him respect and to recognise him as the ruler. But she is holding out hope that magic could help her to regain the throne, she is just unsure how. Jonas, the fearless rebel, wishes to help Paelsia, his home, and gain power from the King at whatever cost, while Princess Lucia wishes to understand her own power. Then there is Prince Magnus, the King’s son, who yearns to prove his worth to his father and become just like him. Gaius has begun to build a road that will link all of Mytica and end at the Forbidden Mountains, but it is paved with blood and its true meaning kept a secret.

I love how unexpected this series is. You never really know what is going to happen and I love being surprised by what the characters do. I also really like the magical elements to this story and the elementia that Lucia possesses. We find out more about the Watchers in this book, mystical beings who are searching for the Kindred which will restore magic, but only the very powerful sorceress can find.

The plot definitely thickened a lot more in this book, with more secrets and political intrigue. We have the introduction of a few new characters, such as Prince Ashur who is from Kraeshia, a country across the Silver Sea. He was a bit of a mystery but I have a feeling he will feature more later on. We still have the multiple perspectives, which I find great because I love getting to see what everyone is doing and little secrets are given here and there, which is only more frustrating when the other characters are oblivious.

As for characters, I felt even more attached to them and couldn’t help beginning to like some more than I first thought I would (looking at you Magnus) and then there were others who made incredibly stupid mistakes (yep, that’s you Jonas). Lucia was a lot more complicated in this series and took me by surprise with some of the things she did, and it just seems like all that power is going to her head. I see bad things coming in the future. Then there is Cleo, who has had her whole world torn down and is forced to live with the people who did it. I can understand why she wants revenge and I urge her onward because King Gaius is the worst.

While there wasn’t as much action as the first one, as this was way more political, I still enjoyed all that it had to offer and went onto the third one straight away. I enjoy the way that Morgan Rhodes writes because it moves so quickly and I am always on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next unexpected thing to happen. There is a lot of romance and feelings in this book, a love triangle, hate-to-romance kind of thing and in a way I kind of loved it. I just can’t wait to read more about these characters and how their lives become intertwined, more so than they already have.

Overall, I’m going to give this a solid 4 stars.

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Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Date: 1st September 2015

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Before I started reading the fourth instalment of this series, I had heard that the series started to go downhill, and after loving the first three I was a bit hesitant at first. Turns out I had nothing to worry about because this book was incredible! So much happened in the 600+ pages (that’s a lot of words) and I was living for it. Especially after the ending, which has made me more excited to get around to the next two books before the final one comes out this year. Fair warning, there will be spoilers as we are well into this series now (if anything I am a bit behind).

Aelin, formerly Celaena Sardothien, has returned to Rifthold to take back what is rightfully hers, to destroy the men responsible for ruining her life, and to save the people she loves. After learning that her cousin has been taken and Dorian is under the control of a Valg Prince, she devises a plan to rescue Aedion with the help of Chaol and her former master, Arobynn. But everything comes at a price and the price of Arobynn’s help is the deliverance of a Valg to his doorstep. Soon enough help arrives in the form of Rowan, the Fae who helped her back in Wendlyn, and they all work together to help Aelin take back her Kingdom and face her foes (because there are plenty).

All the while, back in Morath the Blackbeak witches are under the rule of the King and Duke Perrington. Manon has been told by her grandmother to do as they are told and to not question anything. But when the witches are taken to be used for breeding with the Valg demons, Manon knows that something is wrong. Something dark is brewing within the walls and they soon realise that things must change.

So much happens in this book that it is hard to know where to start. The writing, as always, was incredible and captivating. When it comes to world building, Maas is one of the best and I can always visualise what is written in front of me. I am loving that we still get to read about the witches in Morath because Manon is one of my favourite characters, and it was interesting to finally read scenes with Arobynn in them (isn’t he an evil bastard?). The plot twists just keep coming with this series and the biggest one was saved for the end, which completely shocked me to my core. I don’t understand how that can still happen with a series, but it is keeping me hooked.

Something I adore about the Throne of Glass series now is that there are still the multiple perspectives, which allow us to see so much more. Again, there is so much to talk about, but I guess I will try to sum it up as much as I can. Of course we have Aelin, the badass Queen, who is still one of my favourite protagonists. She is sassy and sarcastic, as well as brutal, even when she sometimes shouldn’t be. I really enjoyed her romantic development with Rowan in this story. While I was firmly team Chaol I have been swayed, because they are the best and have some of my favourite scenes in the book. Rowan has really grown on me and I find myself always smiling when I read his snarky comments and swooning when he looks out for Aelin.

There was the introduction of a new character for me, which was Lysandra, someone who Aelin grew up with, and who was used by Arobynn as well. Throughout the story their friendship grew and after what happened with Nehemia, it was great to see that happen. Not to mention the fact that Lysandra was such a strong female character that fought for those she loved. Later on in the story some truths are revealed which makes her a better character and one that I look forward to reading about in the future.

I’m going to speak about some of the darker characters in the story now and for a time it was Dorian. His chapters were heartbreaking after everything he has gone through and now he is possessed by a Valg demon. But I liked how Chaol was always rooting for him, wanting to save him, even when others didn’t think he could be saved (looking at you Aelin). Then we have Manon. I love her. She isn’t the nicest of people, I will admit that, but she is ferocious and brutal, and her chapters are my favourites. She is such a diverse character and she really gets quite the arc in this story considering what happens at the end with Dorian.

I would say that the second half of the book is better because that is when most of the action takes place and there is so much going on. Secrets unfold, lots of people die and in the end, I would say that there was a happy ending of sorts. But you can definitely tell that something dark and sinister is lurking on the horizon and I can’t wait to find out what happens to our characters next.

Overall, Queen of Shadows was my favourite book in the series so far and I can only hope that it will continue this way. A solid five stars from me!

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Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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Title: Falling Kingdoms

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Publisher: Razorbill

Date: 11th December 2012

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I just have one question…Where has this book been for my whole life? It was incredible. The first thing I did after finishing Falling Kingdoms was to go to Amazon and order the second and third book. I had heard a lot about this series, but it completely blew me away. I finished it in less than 48 hours, that’s how good it is. I loved everything about this book; the characters, the action, the politics, the myths and so much more.

The land of Mytica is made up of three kingdoms, Auranos, Paelsia and Limeros. All have lived peacefully, until now. Auranos is a prosperous land and home to the beloved Princess Cleo, who travelled to Paelsia to retrieve wine with a group of friends. While there the unthinkable happens and she witnesses a murder that begins to threaten the place she calls home. The brother of the man killed, Jonas, has set his mind on revenge and has sworn to destroy Auranos at whatever cost. In the cold and freezing kingdom of Limeros, Prince Magnus yearns to earn his fathers trust, and his sister, Lucia, discovers a secret that will change her life forever. Each ruler wants power and some will stop at nothing to get it.

It isn’t often that I read a book where I feel as if I am one of the characters. The way it was written was so vivid and captivating, I just couldn’t get enough. The world building was incredible and as each chapter changed with the multiple perspectives, I could clearly see where our characters were. I especially loved the scenes where they were on their travels, as well as when all the action was taking place. I was hooked and so invested in the story, always wanting to know what would happen next.

I really enjoyed learning about the myth and lore of magic in Mytica, how some Kingdoms had outlawed it and in others witches were still said to roam. Religion has fallen by the wayside in Auranos, while Limeros has it still integrated into their lives, causing a rift. We learn early on the story of the two Goddesses and what happened to the magic, why it disappeared. Let me tell you, it is very intriguing and mystical.

Third person perspective is one of my favourite ways to read now, mainly because we get to see so much more than first person would, and with four different perspectives, we see a lot. Everything flowed nicely and it didn’t feel disjointed at all. I could easily keep up with the story and follow what was happening, even if I hadn’t read a scene from one of the characters in a few chapters. Each character had a different voice and style that made them easy to differentiate and it was one of my favourite things about this book.

The characters are full of life and so unique. Cleo goes through a tough time in this book, but she tries her best to rise above it all, even as her heart is breaking. When it comes to rebels, Jonas plays the role perfectly and I loved his scenes, especially with Cleo and their arguing. Magnus…he’s a confusing one for me because he’s so conflicted. I want to root for him and for him to be good, despite how awful his father is. I feel like I know more about the other characters than Lucia, but I have an inkling that she is going to feature more in the following books.

As soon as you start reading Falling Kingdoms you are thrown into the action and there is no stopping from there. I honestly feel that this is going to become one of my favourite series and I’m only just getting started! Everything about this book was perfect. At just over 400 pages it was the perfect length (in fact, I ended up wanting more) and the end left me wanting more. This is easily a five star read and I just know that it is only going to get better.

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Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

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Title: Nevernight

Author: Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Harper Collins

Date: 29th June 2017

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It isn’t very often that I read a book that is written by a male author, or even an adult fantasy for that matter. I’m not sure why, maybe I relate more to female authors or I just prefer the kind of stories they write. I hadn’t read a good novel by a male author…until I read Nevernight. I had heard people speak of Jay Kristoff’s writing, mainly Illuminae, but that is a sci-fi book (and I don’t like sci-fi) so I thought it best to give his fantasy series ago. I am so glad I did. This book sucked me in and although I had to stop reading about a third of the way through (had two ARCs to read) I found it so easy to pick back up again.

Death has followed Mia Corvere around since she was ten years old, when she saw her father die and her family be taken away from her. She made a promise to avenge them and destroy the lives of the men who killed her family. Everything she has done in her life has been to work towards a goal. To train among the best assassins in the Red Church of Itreya. There she will learn how to survive, to battle and outwit her classmates, and earn a place among the chosen ones. But she finds that it isn’t as easy as she had hoped and along the way she yearns to know more about her own dark powers.

Nevernight is a truly unique book, with a world that is unlike any other. It is dark, dangerous, full of intrigue and I keep wanting to know more. Kristoff writes very well, although I know it may not be for everyone (if you don’t like metaphors and similes, stay away) but I for one really enjoyed his style of flowery writing. Just because I say flowery, it doesn’t mean this book is like that. It is brutal, with lots of killing and blood, but what else can you expect from a book about bad ass assassins?

Something that I thought was unique was the use of footnotes from the narrator. Mia’s story is being told from the future, as we are notified at the beginning that she is dead and that this is her story (so I’m not spoiling it for you). Throughout the book there are little stars that indicate there is more to know about a certain place or person and it can be found at the bottom. While this sometimes interrupted the flow of the story in places, I enjoyed most of the information I was told, especially the witty comments.

Mia Corvere is one hell of a protagonist. You never know what she’ll do next and I love that about her. She is frank, to the point, likes to swear a lot (like…a lot…and with words my mother always said were the worst). She is so intriguing and the fact that she can control shadows and has a shadow cat as her friend is amazing. Mister Kindly (the shadow cat) is always by her side, ever since her family was taken away, and their friendship is a unique one. I often found myself smiling as I read their interactions.

Of course, there is also the other assassins at the school. Some were awful (because we always need a villain) and others were sweet and kind. But looks can be deceiving, as we often find out in this novel. Tric is a character that Mia encounters early on in the novel and someone I grew to love. They understood each other and while things weren’t always good between them, they cared for one another in their own way.

Nevernight has an amazing plot twist that I didn’t see coming, at all. When this happens it often makes a book that much better for me. I love the unexpected and this novel definitely gave me that. There is still so much more to find out about in Godsgrave, which I need to get my hands on immediately. I was thinking about Nevernight for days after I finished reading it and that is how I know when a book has stolen my heart.

Overall, I thought that Nevernight was a brilliant read and I think that Jay Kristoff is one of my favourite authors now (I may even have to check out his other books, whatever the genre may be). This book is for you if you love darkness, action, politics, killing, sex and a whole lot of swearing. While I know it may not be for everyone, this will probably become one of my favourite trilogies. A solid 4.5 stars from me.

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ARC Review: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

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Title: The Smoke Thieves

Author: Sally Green

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Date: 3rd May 2018

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I was lucky enough to be given a chance to review this book early from Penguin Random House on NetGalley. I am all about YA Fantasy at the moment and when I heard of The Smoke Thieves, a story told from different perspectives, I knew I had to find out more. This is the first in a trilogy and I feel that it set the tone really well. I had expected there to me a bit more action and for the most part it was very story driven. Some characters were more memorable than others, but overall I enjoyed this book.

Spread across the three nations of Calidor, Pitoria and Brigant, there is a princess, a traitor, a soldier, a hunter and a thief. Due to changing circumstances among the kingdoms, their lives are about to become entangled in ways they never thought possible. Princess Catherine is in Brigant, preparing to enter into an arranged marriage with the Prince of Pitoria, but her heart belongs to Ambrose, her faithful bodyguard. During an unfortunate situation, Ambrose is deemed a traitor of Brigant and has to flee to save his life. March is a servant who has been pushed around for too long by the Prince of Calidor and he vows to have his revenge, whatever the cost. In Pitoria, a young man called Edyon gets his kicks from stealing, a hobby which is bound to get him into trouble and in the northern territory there is Tash. There she works with the demon hunter Gravell to take the smoke from their bodies and sell it on their travels. Danger is on the horizon, the kind that they will have to work together to defeat.

In terms of world building I felt that this was more basic that the other stories I have been reading lately. Not to say that it wasn’t good, I managed to get a great feel for the land and the people in them. Brigant was a hard country, with a ruthless ruler, and I often felt sorry for Catherine. A large part of this book is spent travelling in Pitoria and the characters begin to cross paths a little ways in. We get to see a travelling market, where some of my favourite scenes take place, and the way the demon world was described was quite unique as it often incorporated the senses.

Nearly every chapter is from a different perspective, but as some of them were set within the same scene I found that they flowed quite easily. Some of my favourite chapters to read were that of Tash. She was hilarious and I loved her banter and interactions with Gravell, the demon hunter. Edyon was also an interesting character who stood out among the others. I’ve read about a lot of Princesses and unfortunately, Catherine didn’t strike me as anything special, but I did like her.

I love a bit of romance in fantasy novels, but I didn’t feel that The Smoke Thieves had a lot of it, when it should have. The relationship between Catherine and Ambrose was my least favourite and didn’t leave a very lasting impression. The slow burner between March and Edyon was interesting, but again, not a lot happened when I expected a lot more to.

While this book had a few bad points, it was mainly good and I felt I grasped a good feel for the story. I am hoping that the second one will have a lot more action and politics, especially after the last quarter of the book where there were a few revelations. This has often been compared to Game of Thrones (something I haven’t read but have watched) and the same was said about Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, but I think they are two completely different novels. Overall, I feel that The Smoke Thieves was an enjoyable read and one that I would give 3.5 stars to.

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