Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

queen of shadows

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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Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Title: Sky in the Deep

Author: Adrienne Young

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Date: 24th April 2018

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When I first heard of this Viking inspired standalone novel, I got really excited. I headed straight to Amazon and pre-ordered it, only for Amazon to later cancel the order and say they would no longer be stocking it. Imagine my disappointment. But then, one day, I was scrolling through NetGalley and saw that Sky in the Deep was available to request and of course I did. I waited weeks without hearing anything and with the release date less than a week away I had given up hope. Then I got the email saying that I was approved and I have never been happier. I read this book within two days, which is very quick considering I have work in the week. It was incredible and so moving, one of my favourites of the year so far.

For centuries the Aska and Riki clans have been battling every five years, fighting for their deities and honour. Eelyn is a seventeen year old Aska warrior who prides herself on her fighting skills and has a strong will to survive. As she is battling against the Riki clan once more on the battlefield, she sees something that stops her in her tracks. Before her eyes is her brother Iri, the same one that she watched die five years beforehand. A brother that is fighting with the Riki, not against them. Following him to discover the truth, she is captured by Fiske, the one who is with her brother, and is taken back to one of the Riki villages where she is surrounded by her enemies. All she wants is to understand what happened to her brother and to eventually return home, something that is easier said that done when you are stuck on a mountain in the dead of winter. But when a dangerous force attacks the village, Eelyn has no choice but to trust Fiske and the other Riki, and to help bring the clans together before their enemies destroy them once and for all.

I have so many wonderful thoughts about this book that it is hard to know where to begin. I’m going to start by saying that, at its core, this is a book about family and loyalty, as well as overcoming prejudice. It shows us that sometimes we need to look past the thoughts and feelings that have been instilled after centuries of thinking a certain way and that we should open our hearts to others. The emotions in this book are raw and you feel everything that Eelyn is going through. When she is angry you feel it burning your skin, and when she is sad and at a loss you can feel your heart breaking with her. The writing style flowed perfectly and kept me turning the pages, always wanting to find out what happened next.

I really liked the mythical lore of the clans and their Gods/Goddesses. The Aska worship Sigr, the God of Water and the sea, where their home lies, whilst the Riki worship Thora, Goddess of Fire and the mountains. The origin of the hatred that runs between these two clans is explained early on and is something that is referenced throughout. Both clans fight for honour and to earn a place in the afterlife with their family, they just have different ways of worshipping their deities.

There are some incredible action sequences throughout, with axes swinging, blood covering clothes and blades being drawn across skin. In fact, the first chapter jumps straight into the action of the battlefield and it set me up for the rest of the book. Not exactly for the faint of heart, but there are also parts that are heart warming and touching. Sky in the Deep stirred so many emotions in me and it is something that doesn’t always happen. I felt like I was right there by Eelyn’s side as she went through everything, some of which wasn’t always pleasant. I will mention that there are mentions of rape at times, so that is something to bear in mind.

Our main character, Eelyn is feisty, strong and a true warrior. She is protective of the ones she loves and won’t take any crap from anyone. So, when she is captured it really hits her hard and she has to adjust, but at the same time the survivor in her is always looking for a way out. She has great character development, shown through her emotions and actions as she begins to learn why her brother stayed with the Riki and didn’t return home to the Aska.

While at the Riki village, Eelyn sees that they aren’t so different from the Aska, and slowly but surely we get to find out more about Fiske’s family, the people who took Iri in after the accident. There are some very sweet and tender moments between them all, often reminding me of my own family. Then there is the slow burning relationship between Eelyn and Fiske, which was just incredible. I haven’t enjoyed a romance like this in a while and it was extremely refreshing for it not to be instant-love, or a love triangle.

I could probably go on and on about how much I adored this book. Everything was perfect. We have fully fleshed out characters, incredible relationships, great action, a quick pace and some of the best world building I’ve read in a while. There wasn’t too much of any one thing, and I loved it that much I may have to just buy my own copy. One of the easiest five star ratings I’ve given out this year.

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ARC Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Title: Ash Princess

Author: Laura Sebastian

Publisher: Delacorte Books (Macmillan Children’s Books in UK)

Date: 24th April 2018 (14th June 2018 for UK)

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I was lucky enough to have been approved to read an ARC of Ash Princess from Macmillan Children’s Books on NetGalley. While this book doesn’t come out until June, I thought it best to post my review now for those who are in the US and those who can buy the book on Book Depository. I was drawn to this because it sounded like some other YA fantasy books that I loved in the past and I wanted to see if it would live up to them. In the end I found myself really enjoying Ash Princess and while it had a few tropes (love triangle anyone?) I didn’t actually mind them. If anything, I thought it was quite refreshing.

When she was six years old, Theodosia saw her mother brutally murdered when her kingdom was invaded by a tyrant known as the Kaiser. Since then he has kept her captive and either slaughtered or enslaved her people. Whenever they tried to start rebellions he took it out on her, whipping and beating her to send a message to her people. To them she is just the Ash Princess, a mockery, but she can only keep up the pretence for so long. When her last hope dies, she seeks out revenge and with the help of her people she concocts a plan to murder the Prinz. But as she grows close to him she realises that her feelings may not be as fake as she wants them to be. In the end, only she can decide what she will do to save her people.

There are a few traits of this story that relate to another famous series, but it was also unique in its own way. It starts off a little slow, as most fantasies do, but the world is slowly built up and we gain an understanding of what happened to Theo’s home, Astrea. Sebastian creates a brutal world where there is no hope until one girl decides to fight back. Throughout the book we find out more about the world, but one aspect I enjoyed was the magic and how it came about. Some Astreans have magical powers gifted from their Gods and they are enhanced with gems that come from the mines, which of course the Kaiser would harvest for himself, even though they cannot wield the magic in the same way.

I will warn you that there are some tough topics in this book, which include abuse, slavery and hints of rape. There were scenes that were tense and horrible to read, especially towards the end of the book, but they led to Theo’s penultimate decisions. Race plays a part as well, as the Kaiser and his people are fair haired with pale skin and the Astreans have olive skin with dark hair, something that is pointed out a few times within the book.

Unable to keep the name Theodosia, she became known as Thora, as the Kaiser wouldn’t allow her to use her royal name, and instantly we know that her life is one that has been spent walking on eggshells, cowering from the Kaiser and his men, and one that was torturous. But as the story goes on we see her finding the willpower to fight back and to be stronger than she has been. There was definitely some great character development and I enjoyed seeing her embrace her heritage.

The other characters in this story were likeable, especially Cress, the daughter of the man who killed Theo’s mother, but who treated her like a sister. Their friendship was sweet in places, especially in the beginning. However, as Theo became closer to the Prinz, you could see cracks start to form. Soren, the Prinz was a complicated character. I wanted to like him, but at the same time I was always waiting for him to become his father. The love triangle enters the story with Blaise, an Astrean who lived at the palace when Theo was young. As far as love triangles go, this one wasn’t hard to stomach and I’m looking forward to the second book where I’m sure it will feature more.

Overall, I found myself flying through Ash Princess and when I was past 75% I didn’t want to stop reading! The ending was great and sets up the second book up perfectly. It will be intriguing to see what happens to all the characters and how their stories will weave in to each other. Ash Princess was a great debut and manages to reach four stars in my opinion.

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Review: The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake

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Title: The Oracle Queen

Author: Kendare Blake

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Date: 3rd April 2018

I am one of many people that have fallen in love with this series. It isn’t often that I will go out and buy all the novellas that are associated with a book, but when it comes to Three Dark Crowns I can never get enough. Once an email came through from Amazon asking me if I wanted to pre-order, I was as quick as lightning to buy it and then proceeded to read it in a whole day.

Throughout the series we have heard mentions of The Oracle Queen, a Queen that was driven mad by her visions and had to be locked away to keep herself from destroying Fennbirn and its people. Since then all queens with the gift of the sight have been drowned. But is the tale really what it seems? Was she as crazy as everyone made her out to be? Or was there something larger, more sinister at work?

The Oracle Queen tells the story of Elsabet and her fall from grace due to her maddening visions. However, that wasn’t the case and the truth was something I hadn’t expected. She herself was often insecure and treated poorly, especially from those she loved, and it was sad to see. I wanted to root for her, to know that everything would work out, but we all know that it doesn’t.

While we know that the politics and groups in Fennbirn are corrupt, namely the Arrons who are as awful as the recent generation, and it seems that things weren’t so different all those centuries ago. While some aspects of this were a little predictable, I really enjoyed watching the relationships between the characters play out. There is still hostility between those of differing abilities, but there were also friendships between some, especially Elsabet with her War-gifted friend.

While this wasn’t my favourite novella (I much preferred The Young Queens, which you can read about here) I did enjoy reading it. I must have if I flew through it in one sitting. If you love this series as much as I do then make sure you check it out. Overall, I am going to give The Oracle Queen 3.5 stars.

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See where it all began with Three Dark Crowns:

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Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

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Title: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Date: 7th February 2017

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Before picking up this book (or rather, switching on my Kindle) I had never read anything that Neil Gaiman had written. I have heard of him (although I didn’t realise some of the books he had written, such as Coraline) but I never thought to read his work. Everyone said how masterful he was and I figured I would get around to it eventually. Well, eventually did come around when I saw Norse Mythology on offer for £2, which is a great buy.

I have always been intrigued by mythology, especially Greek mythology, and I had a few text books that I once used for a story idea (I never finished it) and I loved reading YA inspired by it. One of my favourite adult series was Goddess Summoning by P. C. Cast, in which different Gods and Goddesses feature. When I saw Norse Mythology, I realise that I didn’t know much apart from what Marvel had taught me (which doesn’t even feature all of the God’s or even Odin’s favourite, which is Balder).

So, I dived into the stories and I loved them. People weren’t wrong when they said that Neil Gaiman is a master of storytelling. There was so much detail woven into the tales and he breathed life into them, making them so vivid in my mind. All the tales were building to the end of days, Ragnarok, and it was so interesting to see how all the parts fit together.

Thor is very different to the one that Chris Hemsworth plays. For one, he is a redhead, and the second is that he isn’t the brightest, often letting pride and ego get in the way. I loved reading about Loki and all the tricks he played, always getting himself and others into trouble, but somehow making things right again. Not to mention, I finally found out what happened to Odin’s eye and why it was gone.

Freya, one of the Goddesses, featured prominently, often put into situations thanks to the Gods, none that she was pleased about, and she often fell out with Loki. We learnt about Balder, Odin’s favourite son, who was the sun for all, and how Loki betrayed him. We learnt about how Thor’s hammer came to be, as well as other gifts given to the Gods, and I found myself wanting to read more.

While this book was very informative, written so that I thought it could have been real, it was also funny in places, with action and drama. I loved the narration that featured throughout, making it seem more real and I was able to connect with the stories. Overall, this was a great read and I think 4 stars is the perfect rating.

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Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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Title: Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Date: 8th March 2018

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It isn’t often that I buy into the hype of new books. It can be dangerous because sometimes they can let you down and not be as good as you would have hoped. That wasn’t the case for Children of Blood and Bone. This debut fantasy novel was everything I hoped it would be and more. Words can’t even describe how much I adored this book. I soaked in every detail, every page that was full of action and I have to say that it is probably the best book I have read so far this year. It isn’t often that a book goes straight into the number one spot on the NYT bestseller list.

There was once a time when magic flowed freely through the Maji in Orisha, when the ten clans wielded their powers and thrived. Then one day, the magic disappeared altogether. They were left defenceless and slaughtered by the King, wiping out all traces of their heritage. Zelie was left alone with her father and brother when their mother was killed for them to see. All hope was lost as the people kept to themselves, especially the Maji with their white hair. By chance, Zelie comes across a rogue princess who just might hold the key to bringing magic back to Orisha, and so they embark on a dangerous quest to restore it. They must outrun the prince who is hot on their trail and hell bent on following the King’s orders, before time runs out.

The world that Adeyemi has created is one of a kind, inspired by West African mythology, and the history is explained in so much detail that I felt as if I was there with the characters. The information was weaved into the story effortlessly and I never felt that I was in overload. When it comes to writing a story that is intriguing, captivating and fast paced, Tomi Adeyemi has it down to a tee. I don’t think I’ve ever flown through a book of this size so quickly (it isn’t a small book by any means with over 500 pages). And I can’t forget to mention how incredible the magic system was, and unique as well. I loved how there were different types of magic that people could specialise in as well.

Some of the history in the book is heartbreaking, especially when it comes to the slaughtering of the Maji and it has echoes of what happened in real life to African people, as well as the oppression that is still happening in the world. We are made to feel every emotion in this book and I was kept on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out if our characters were successful in their bid to restore magic.

All of the characters that feature in this book were fully fleshed out, as though they could step out of the pages and into real life. I laughed with them during the dialogue, I rolled my eyes at some of their actions and I was cheering them on. Zelie was a wonderfully strong protagonist, a fierce warrior guided by her emotions and someone I was rooting for. You could really see her growing throughout the book, learning about magic, and it was great to read about her relationships. Amari, our rogue princess, was just as great and quite a surprise later on. She really grew into herself and showed that we all have courage within us. While Amari and Zelie’s relationship was a little rocky to begin with, it was great to see the friendship blossom.

I can’t forget about the villain of the story, the King who was cruel, vindictive and awful to the people of Orisha. His son, Inan, was a tough one for me. You want to hate him, but at the same time you can’t seem to. Something I loved was the way the perspectives of the story switched between Zelie, Amari and Inan. It provided me with so much more information than I would have had if there was just one main character.

I still can’t get over this book and it’s been nearly a week since I finished reading it. I need more of this incredible world and the amazing cast of characters, especially after that ending. I have a feeling there is so much more to explore and more adventures to be had. If you are looking for a YA Fantasy story that is full of action and magic, then this is the story for you. The easiest five stars I have ever given out.

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Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

siege and storm

Title: Siege and Storm

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Date: 4th June 2013

I started Siege and Storm as soon as I finished Shadow and Bone, because how could I not? I wanted to find out what would happen to the characters and I have to say that the second book didn’t disappoint at all. It was full of action from the get go and I felt this book was a great follow up. I cannot wait to see how it will all pan out for the characters that I have grown to love (some of them at least).

Running from the Darkling, Alina and Mal sail across the seas to make a new life for themselves, but it isn’t easy. While they had hoped the Darkling died on the Fold, they soon realise he is closing in on them and his plans have only grown more dangerous. To beat him she has to return to Ravka, with the help of a mysterious privateer who isn’t what he seems, and search for the power that can stop the Darkling once and for all…but at what cost?

As with the first, I loved the writing style that was fast paced and full of great descriptions that helped me to vividly picture the world around the characters. The story itself has been progressing nicely and the character development is there for a couple (not all) of the characters. Bardugo knows how to make you feel emotion, whether it is good or bad, and that is always a great thing. Sometimes you need to dislike characters, to roll your eyes at what they say and be annoyed by their actions (which I was when it concerns a certain love interest).

It was great to see Alina taking charge of the situation more in the second book, whereas in the first she was a little weak and moaned a lot. While there were some things I didn’t agree with, it was clear to see that she has had a lot of character growth and has become more sure of herself in her role as the Sun Summoner. The way she interacts with the other characters and Grisha was very interesting, especially the latter. She went from being the girl no one wanted to be around, to the one that would lead them.

From the end of the first book the relationship between Alina and Mal grew, but their ‘honeymoon period’ was bound to end soon. This is my least favourite romance I have read and it has to do with Mal. He wasn’t very likeable and honestly, he annoyed the hell out of me with some of the things he did that ended up hurting Alina. It will be intriguing to see what happens to them during the final book.

However, there was the introduction of a new character that I ended up really liking, and that is Nikolai. He is hilarious, a little arrogant (you find out why), but he does have good intentions. I loved the banter between him and Alina, which left me smiling and feeling warm inside. I hope we get to see a lot more of him in the final book. I can’t forget about the Darkling and his evil ways. It’s funny how I was beginning to like him in the first one and then everything just went south. I want him to be redeemable but I just don’t think it will happen. Saying that, I can’t wait to see what will happen to him, especially after that ending!

Overall, I really enjoyed Siege and Storm, and I am so excited to read Ruin and Rising, where I hope we can have a great ending to the story. I am going to give this four stars, just like the first one.

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