Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Title: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Date: 31st January 2017

Blurb:

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

For the last few months, I had been in a ready slump. I attempted to read 3 different books and got through 30-50% of them all and stopped there. I wasn’t sure what it was, but none of them was catching my attention. Feeling fed up, I went to twitter and set up a poll where people could decide what book I should read to pull me out of the slump. Caraval ended up winning by quite a bit, so I started it that night. Two days later and I had finished it and was left wondering where this book had been my whole life.

I honestly can’t remember the last time a book swept me away and transported me to a world where I forgot about everything else in my life. It was the most magical book I’ve ever read with gorgeous prose, incredible characters I cared about and twists & turns I didn’t know were possible. While I was reading I had this warm feeling throughout and struggled to put the book know when it was time to go to bed or finish my lunch break. I was hooked and left wanting more when I turned the last page.

Let’s start with the world of Caraval because it was spectacular. I loved the way Garber describes her settings because I can see it so clearly in my head, full of vivid colours and delightful scents. Some people might not like purple prose, but I for one love it and this book has a lot of it. There are strange and wonderful shops full of secret entryways and if you want access to them or to buy gorgeous gowns it all comes at a price, something that matters to the players such as a secret. The premise of Caraval being a game that is to be played by multiple people drew me in straight away, everyone fighting for a chance to win a wish. As you’re reading, it’s hard to tell what is real and what is an illusion, but that makes it even more fun to read. There are so many secrets waiting to be uncovered and you never know what will happen until it does.

The story is told from Scarlett’s perspective, a girl who is supposed to be getting married but is instead whisked off to Caraval and has to participate in the game to get her sister back. At first, I was unsure about Scarlett as she can be a bit over the top at times, but as the story progressed I found myself rooting for her. She gets caught up in the game, something that often has consequences for her, but she is determined to find her sister and win the game, whatever it takes. After being taken to the island by a sailor called Julian, she spends a lot of time with him and a romance soon blossoms. I say romance lightly because it is more of an insta-love in this book, but that might change in the sequels. Either way, I enjoyed the dialogue and scenes they shared together, showing their chemistry. I was invested in their journey together and was pleasantly surprised by some things that occurred near the end of the book. Julian is definitely one of my favourite characters, mainly because he’s rugged, hilarious and kind of the bad-boy type. Who doesn’t love that?

There were a number of side characters who make appearances throughout and who I’m sure will feature more in the other books. Scarlett’s father is awful and infuriated me with how cruel he is, but the only character I’m not sure on is Tella, Scarlett’s sister. She didn’t feature much in the book, but early glimpses showed her as being a little selfish and impulsive, but towards the end, we are shown a different side of her. I won’t spoil it for you because it is one of the bigger twists in the book.

The twists and turns were so incredible, I almost got whiplash. I think they are part of the reason why the pace was so quick. Something happened in every chapter that made me invested in the story and the characters. I kept saying to myself ‘just one more chapter’ but it was never just one and before I knew it, I was finished! There were even a few times where I gasped out loud while reading. It was that shocking.

I’m not sure what else I can say apart from I adored it. Nothing I say will do it justice, but I tried my best to articulate my thoughts. I finished it a week ago and it’s taken me that long just to get my thoughts in order. This atmospheric mystery is one of my favourite reads for the year so far and I am so excited to buy the remaining two books in this series to see what Garber does with the world and characters.

This is easily a five-star read for me!

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Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

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Title: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Date: 10th April 2018

Circe was the first book I’ve read for 2019 and I am so glad it was because this book is incredible. Words cannot even describe how much I enjoyed and loved this book. Greek mythology has always been something close to my heart. I’ve read many books about it, anything from fantasy to historic and it always captures my attention. I even started writing my own Greek mythology inspired story at one point (which I am inspired to go back to now). I’ve read about many of the gods and goddesses, but I had never heard of Circe before now, but she is definitely one of my favourites.

Circe is a nymph and the daughter of Helios, god of the sun and one of the Titans who sided with Zeus in the battle between the Titans and the Olympians. She isn’t as powerful as him, nor is she as alluring and mysterious as her mother. Circe is an outcast among her kind and so she turns to the mortals, feeling more like them than her own family. It is during her time with them that she discovers she isn’t powerless, that she is, in fact, a witch. Using her will, she can turn her rivals into monsters and cause the gods to fear her so much that she is sent to live in isolation on the island of Aeaea. While there, she hones her crafts, tames the wild animals of the island and meets some of the most famous figures in history such as the Minotaur, Medea and even Odysseus. However, she is not safe on her island and goes up against one of the strongest and most brutal of the gods and goddesses. If she wants to protect that which matters most to her, she must use all her strength and decide where she belongs; among the gods or the mortals.

I don’t even know where to begin with describing how much I loved reading Circe. I guess the best place is to start with the character herself. It isn’t often where I feel strongly for a certain character, but I did with Circe. She was an outcast and I could relate to that so much. When I was younger I felt like I was on the outside at times and it was awful reading how the other gods and goddesses, her own siblings, treated her. I wanted her to be happy, and when she thought she had her chance, it was taken away from her. Before reading this, I did a little research to find out who Circe was and found out that she was mentioned in The Odyssey, where she turns men into pigs. We find out later on in this story why she does this.

After discovering her powers by turning her rival into a monstrous sea monster, Circe is sent by Zeus to live on an island by herself, where she starts to discover who she truly is. While there, she learns more about her craft and how she takes control of her life. She isn’t perfect by any means, she has flaws like all of us, but that only made her more likeable. I also enjoyed reading about her interactions with her siblings, mainly her sister Pasiphaë, who is famous for giving birth to the Minotaur, which is as disturbing as you think it is. That led to her meeting Daedalus and eventually learning about his son, Icarus, and we all know what happened to him. She is told about the outside world by Hermes, who often visits her, and we realise how lonely it must be for her, but she doesn’t let that loneliness cripple her.

It wasn’t always easy and when men started arriving at her shores, looking for help, I had an inkling that something bad would happen (trigger warning: rape). However, she doesn’t allow what happened to her to define her and bring her down. Instead, she becomes strong and whenever she is threatened, she turns the men into pigs, until she meets Odysseus. Their story was one of my favourite parts of this book. If you want to know what their relationship is like, then this quote sums it up quite well.

“Odysseus, son of Laertes, the great traveller, prince of wiles and tricks and a thousand ways. He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”

I enjoyed reading about their time together and how it shaped Circe, eventually gifting her with a child who she would protect at all costs against Athena. This part of this story was also one of my favourites because it showed the lengths a mother would go to protect her son. While I could mention what happened, I don’t want to because I want you all to read this book and see the incredible story-telling that is written in Circe. Circe embraces who she is and will not let anyone tear her down, which is why I love her character so much. This is a story about her life, the pain she went through, the love she felt, all the heartache and desire that clouded her emotions and it is a story about motherhood.

When it comes to world-building, I think that Madeline Miller is one of the best. I could picture everything, from the Oceanus, where she grew up, to her adventures out in the world and on her little island. I could smell the salt of the sea and feel her emotions as if they were my own, it was honestly magical. Circe is a book I know I will read again in the future as there is so much detail that I want to read more of, to find out more that I may have missed. I didn’t want to put this book down at all and when that happens, I just know it is a story that will forever stay with me.

I could go on and on about the masterpiece that is Circe and how much I loved every second of reading, but I think the best way for you to understand how good it is, is to read it yourself. The easiest 5 stars I have ever given and probably in my top 5 favourite books of all time. It is seriously that amazing!

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Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

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Title: Mirage

Author: Somaiya Daud

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Date: 28th August 2018

I was given a chance to review this book on NetGalley, but the first time I tried reading it I was in a reading slump. However, I knew I wanted to read this book as the premise sounded interesting and I left it to a later date. Overall, I enjoyed reading Mirage, but it wasn’t my favourite book and I think that is because I had been reading so many amazing 5-star reads, it was hard to keep up with them. I love that this is inspired by Middle-Eastern culture, which definitely came across in the writing and I love the sci-fi edge that this book had.

Amani’s home is ruled by the Vathek, a brutal empire who invaded the star system and sent her family into poverty. She dreams of being able to escape her life and go on an adventure, but one day she is kidnapped by the Vathek and brought to the home of the half-Vathek Princess Maram. It is there that she discovers the two of them look identical and how they plan to use Amani as a body double in dangerous situations. Amani has to become the princess if she wants to keep her family safe, which means she is thrust into a world full of politics and beautiful palaces, with Maram’s fiance, Idris, by her side.

I will start off by saying that I found the worldbuilding to be quite interesting at times, such as how it is set on a completely different planet, but it was also a little confusing. There was quite a bit of info-dumping at the beginning, which I don’t mind too much but it slowed the book down a lot. Some things were mentioned and never really explained properly, so I just had to have a guess at what they were. I think it was too much at times and it didn’t need to be as the idea itself is interesting enough to capture my attention, as well as the characters.

This is definitely a character-driven book, which is something I enjoyed as I loved reading about Amani. I felt her pain as she was taken away from her family and thrust into this unknown world. The first meeting between Amani and Maram doesn’t go well, as can be expected with a cruel princess who doesn’t care about anyone but herself, but along the way we see something growing between the two. We begin to realise why Maram acts the way she does and I might even say that it made her likeable towards the end of the book.

Something else that I enjoyed was the romance. It isn’t epic like some of the other books I have read, but it was pleasant enough and has made me excited to read more about the characters. While Idris might be engaged to Maram, you can see that he really cares about Amani and they both share their own stories of how the Vathek had ruined their lives.

While there are sci-fi elements in this book, it reads like a fantasy book, which is one of the reasons why I liked it. If you’re looking for an action-packed book, this isn’t the one for you. It is a lot slower, focusing on the history of the world and the relationships between the characters instead. I really enjoyed the unique setting and would be interested in reading the sequel to see what happens. Overall, I’m going to give Mirage a solid 3 stars.

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Review: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

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Title: Sea Witch

Author: Sarah Henning

Publisher: Harper Collins UK

Date: 31st July 2018

I would like to start this review off by saying thank you to Harper Collins for giving me a chance to review this book on NetGalley. As soon as I heard about the synopsis for Sea Witch I instantly thought it could be something I would enjoy. I love the Little Mermaid and books that are loosely based on fairy tales are very in at the moment, but this was different. Instead of focusing on Ariel, it would be the character that would become Ursula in the Little Mermaid, but with a twist.

Evie was always the outcast, which was made worse when her best friend Anna died four years ago in a tragic accident. But Evie has a secret and when she meets Annemette, who bears a striking resemblance to her friend that drowned, Evie realises she must keep more secrets from her friend Nik, the prince. Annemette cannot stay on land for long, having cast a spell to change her fin into legs that will last four days, until she can find true love with the prince. Evie will do anything to help her new friend, even if it means harnessing her magic and risking it all.

It took me a little while to read this book and I think it’s because I was going through a reading slump, which might have affected my views on this book. I really liked certain aspects of this book, especially the setting which takes its inspiration from Copenhagen and places like that. There is even a place mentioned in the book that is real, which I thought was really cool. However, this is a very slow book until you get to the last quarter and I think that is why I struggled.

I had a hard time connecting with the characters, especially the main character Evie as it is her point of view we see from. I really wanted to love this book, but it fell a little short for me. With the premise of witches having been hunted in the past and having to hide in secret, I expected more magic and for it to be darker. Unfortunately, not a lot happens in the first two thirds apart from characters having conversations and going to parties.

However, while I had mixed feelings about Evie, I really enjoyed the scenes with Nik in them because he was sweet and charming. Exactly the kind of Prince we need in a story and it was interesting to read his interactions with both Evie and Annemette. You always get the feeling that there is something off with Annemette and as the story unravels we learn more about her, which was quite the shock later on. I love a good plot twist in a story and this had plenty!

I won’t lie, I almost stopped reading this book twice, but as it was an ARC I persevered and was rewarded with the last quarter of the book. I would actually say that the wait is worth it because it was fast paced, intriguing and there was so much going on. I was actually shocked at some of the revelations and I felt that it had the perfect ending with the epilogue.

If you are thinking about picking up Sea Witch, then you need to know that it is quite slow and not a lot of action/magic happens for the majority of the book. If you are okay with that then give this a go because the ending is worth it. I struggled trying to come up with a rating for this but I think a solid 3 stars works well.

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Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

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Title: Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publisher: Walker Books

Date: 3rd May 2018

I think I found it, my favourite book I have ever read. No, that’s not right. This is my favourite series I’ve ever read. I find it funny how I was wary when I started reading Scythe, mainly because I’m a fantasy girl, but this story has blown me away. Everything about it is incredible! The writing, the characters, the plot twists, and the world building is on another level. I’ve never read another series like this, and I’ve even convinced my dad to give it a try, which is a feat in itself as he doesn’t read many books. Be warned, there will be spoilers for the first book in this review of Thunderhead, but you can check out my review for Scythe here.

Thunderhead picks up a year after the events of Scythe, with Citra becoming known as Scythe Anastasia, gleaning with compassion in an unorthodox way with Scythe Curie as her mentor, while Rowan has gone off the grid, hunting down corrupt scythes under the guise of Scythe Lucifer. The Thunderhead sees all that is happening in and around the Scythedom, some of which he is pleased about and others he is not, yet he is powerless to intervene. But when it becomes clear that Citra and Scythe Curie’s lives are being threatened, the Thunderhead must decide if it should intervene in the only way it can. Greyson Tolliver has grown up under the guidance of the Thunderhead, his parents abandoning him at a young age, and the Thunderhead has plans for the boy that will make him question everything. Unfortunately for the Scythedom, there will be times where the all-powerful Thunderhead finds himself powerless to help the world that is beginning to crumble around them.

I finished Thunderhead a couple of days ago and I am still reeling from having finished it. The ending was incredible, with the last fifty or so pages filled with so many plot twists and revelations. All I could do was stare as I reached the last page and curse the fact that the third book isn’t out yet. How can I wait for so long after a cliffhanger like that? Scythe was such an incredible read and I knew it would be tough to follow it up, but somehow Thunderhead did just that. I felt that the plot was more intriguing for the second book, with so many moving pieces that I had no idea what was going to happen until it was all unfolding before me.

Something that I loved about this sequel was that we got to delve deeper into the Thunderhead and what it feels about the world and the Scythedom. This was done in the form of journal entries, replacing those in the first book that were from the scythes. We get to see more emotion from the Thunderhead and see that all it wants is the best for humanity, making it a benevolent force in the story, which is refreshing given that most AI is portrayed as being the ‘bad guy’.

Each entry gave little hints as to what was to come in the story and it really helped to expand on this incredible world that Shusterman has created. We got to travel with Citra and Scythe Curie as they were on the run from those wanting to kill them, and visit Texas, where the Thunderhead doesn’t enforce the rules, which was interesting to read about. Not only that, but we are introduced to the Unsavories, people that the Thunderhead has branded as being rebellious and a disruption to society, which has an important role to play within the story. There are also the Tonists, who we were introduced to in Scythe, and are the only religious faction left in the world who are searching for the Great Resonance.

I would say that the only downside to Thunderhead is that I didn’t get to read more about Citra and Rowan, as we had new characters making an appearance, such as Greyson. I was unsure what his role in the story would be, as it progressed quite slowly, but gradually everything began to make sense. I think that is what I love about Shusterman’s writing. He can weave a story so easily, with so much detail, and when everything finally fits together it genuinely shocks you that you didn’t see if before. There are some massive shocks in this book that I can’t talk about, because spoilers, but the stakes are so high in the sequel.

While I didn’t see as much of Citra and Rowan as I wanted to, it was wonderful to see how they had changed since the events of Scythe. Citra has become a strong woman with opinions that challenge those of the other scythes. She doesn’t back down and that is one of the things I love about her. Not only that, but we also see a different side to her relationship with Scythe Curie, one that is caring and sweet. Sacrifices are made in this book, and as heart breaking as they were, it only grew my love for the characters. Scythe Faraday also features in Thunderhead as he embarks on his own quest to discover if there is a way to save the Scythedom from destroying itself due to the corruption of the New Order scythes. While there are questions left unanswered, I am sure that the third book will give them to me.

I could go on and on talking about this book and the series. I can’t remember the last time I fell head over heels like this for a book and it is so refreshing. Arc of a Scythe is definitely a series that I could read again, which will most likely happen before the final book ‘The Toll’ comes out next year. I just don’t know how long the wait will be, considering there isn’t a final date proposed yet. However, I am looking forward to seeing what the cover for The Toll will be as the other two are some of my favourites!

Overall, this book is amazing and a worthy sequel to Scythe. If you haven’t read this series then get out there and buy them, because I can assure you that you won’t regret it! 5 out of 5 stars for me, but if I could give it more I would.

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Wrapping Up The Week (4th June – 10th June)

I feel like I have been having the best weekend ever. While I haven’t done a tonne of reading this week, I did get hit with an amazing story idea that I have thrown myself into since Friday (which I will discuss later on in the blog post). Not only that, but I’ve also taken some time to watch some TV and just relax a little.

Blogging was a little tough to keep up with this week, with Tuesday being a pain thanks to my laptop taking two hours to update leaving me unable to write my Top Ten post, and just being busy in the evenings. I am hoping to get a schedule in place for next week that means I can do some more blogging.

Books I read and reviewed…

empire of storms

This week I finally got around to finishing and reviewing Empire of Storms, which was just amazing. It was incredible to see everything fall into place, knowing that all of this was set into motion in the first book. I was blown away and I hate that I have to wait so long to find out what happens to them all. At least I have Tower of Dawn still left to read and the Assassin’s Blade, too. There were a few places in the book that seemed a little slow and for this reason I ended up giving it 4 stars, which you can read about here.

I am currently reading…

frozen tides

Still making my way through this, mainly because I’ve been so distracted and NOT because it is boring. The exact opposite really, as I am loving the fourth instalment in the series. I would say I am around 65% of the way through and I feel like a few major incidents have happened. This series is definitely more character driven and I kind of like that. Too much action can get a little boring at times. Fingers crossed I can possibly finish this tomorrow night.

Posts from the week…

WWW Wednesday – Shocking Twists

May Book Haul – Some of My Favourites (Plus a Little Chat About My Writing)

A much quieter week, as mentioned before, but I still feel like I have accomplished a lot. I also went to a convention with work on Wednesday which completely tired me out. I’m surprised I even managed to write a blog post on that day. Who knew socialising would be so tiring?

My WIP…

If you follow my blog you will know that for the last 7/8 months I have been working on a novel called The Lost Heir. Well…I kind of shoved that to the side to make room for a new work in progress that features dragons, and I’m pretty sure it was inspired by the third How To Train Your Dragon trailer. Not that it features any of their story ideas, but it does feature some kick-ass dragons.

I’ve managed to write nearly 5,000 words so far for the first draft, with the first chapter being completed. I have to say that already I feel like this is the book I should be writing. Everything is so clear in my head. I managed to write 900 words for the character descriptions (just so I don’t change things by accident) and even managed to do a rough outline for the first half of the story in 1,400 words. I don’t want to say too much but it involves a race of humans that can turn into dragons called the Dracari, dragon guardians, hunters, blood mages, and lots of politics. I can’t wait for all the drama to unfold. I’m not sure whether it will be a standalone or a duology, but I will find out soon.

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And that is all folks! I hope that you managed to read some amazing books this week.

Let me know in the comments how your week went.

 

 

Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

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

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Date: 6th September 2016

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

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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Wrapping Up The Week (28th May – 3rd June)

Even though I was only at work three days this week (thanks to a bank holiday and extra day off) I still felt so drained. I’m pretty sure it’s due to the humid weather we’re having at the moment in the UK and it is making me realise how much I miss Autumn and Winter. I prefer prefer being cosy in a jumper and wrapped in a blanket in the evenings. Still got a while to go until I can do that again.

I would say that this week has been a good one for reading, finishing two books and being over halfway through another one. I doubt I will get as much reading done this week with a full week at work, but I will try my hardest!

Books I read and reviewed…

ace of shades

The first book I finished this week was Ace of Shades, which I was approved to review on NetGalley. This was the first novel I had read from Amanda Foody, even though I have her debut on my shelf, which I am going to get around to soon. I first heard about Ace of Shades from twitter and it really intrigued me. Once I got into the flow of the story I found myself enjoying the world of New Reynes and all the mystery that surrounded the characters. While this isn’t the best book I have ever read, I thought it was a fun and light read, and I am looking forward to the sequel, King of Fools, next year. You can click here to see my review.

ruin and rising

I finally finished off the Grisha trilogy with Ruin and Rising, and I’m honestly sad to have finished with these characters and their story. I thought that the ending was great, with a few twists thrown in for good measure, and it was perfect for me. There was a lot of action in the last 50 pages that kept me wanting to reach the end. I found myself still wanting to know more about the world, so I guess it’s a good thing that I have the Six of Crows series to read and that King of Scars comes out next year. You can check out my full review here.

I am currently reading…

empire of storms

I put Empire of Storms down for a bit to read the two books above, but now I am back to reading the 600 plus page book and I’m enjoying it. There were a few slow bits in places, but it has started to pick back up now. There’s a lot of events and characters to keep track of, but their paths are crossing more now which makes it easier. I still have about 280 pages left to read, so there is a lot that could happen between now and then. I better get reading tonight if I want to finish it in the first half of the week!

Posts from the week…

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In

WWW Wednesday – Finishing Off a Trilogy

Wrapping Up May -18 – Hitting New Targets

My TBR For June – An Exciting Month

A busy week for the blog, with four posts going out and that doesn’t include the two reviews either. I am also happy to say that I finally reached 300 followers! I cannot wait until I have 500 because then I can treat you all to a fun giveaway!

My WIP…

Over the bank holiday I didn’t do any editing, mainly because I was focused on reading two books so I reached my goal of 7 for the month. However, I still managed to write another 8,000 words this week, bringing my second draft to a total 41,111 words (very accurate and a great number to end my editing for the day today). I was just editing one of my favourite chapters today where my main character’s life begins to change and it’s gotten me so excited for what comes next.

Each chapter that I edit reminds me that changing details about the story isn’t as scary as I thought it would be, or as daunting. I know that I will probably have to do another draft after this before it’s ready to head out for querying, but I’m excited.

On another note, I have had some great ideas for the sequel that I have written down in my notes. I just wish I could crack on with writing it, but I have to wait until the first is complete. A lot of things could change between now and then.

Other Fun Stuff…

I haven’t really done too much this week, apart from reading and writing that is. I did order my tickets for a book event to meet Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Blood and Bone, when she goes on tour in the UK. I will be heading to the event in Nottingham and I am so excited! A re-read will probably be in order before then, just so it’s all fresh in my mind. My ticket includes a special edition of the book, along with a signed map, but I’ll probably ask her to sign the book as well.

On Tuesday my boyfriend and I went to see Deadpool 2 in the cinema, and honestly I think I enjoyed it even more than the first one. I don’t know how they managed it, but the sequel was just as good and so funny. Ryan Reynolds plays the character perfectly and I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing it.

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I’m looking forward to next week as I have some great books lined up to read this month. I hope you all had a great week as well!

Let me know in the comments what the best part of your week was.

Wrapping Up May -18 – Hitting New Targets

I think I blinked and May just disappeared in an instant. How did it go by so quickly? Probably because the month was jam packed with fun activities, movie trips, lots of editing for my novel, and a tonne of amazing books!

At the beginning of the month I set myself a target of reading 7 books (a lot more than I’m used to) and I am happy to say that I reached it. I only deviated from my TBR once because I was approved for a book on NetGalley, but apart from that I read everything I wanted to.

Books I Read…

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

falling kngdoms

I started off the month by finishing Falling Kingdoms and I was swept away by this incredible story. I was completely hooked by the characters and the world that Rhodes created. A lot of people have talked about this series, mainly good things, and I am so glad that I gave it a chance because it is one of my favourites! As soon as I finished it I went onto buy the next two in the series. I ended up giving this 5 stars, and you can read my review here.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

queen of shadows

These books are getting so big! I finally went back to reading this series in the month of May and I really enjoyed this instalment. So many amazing things happened and there were some reveals that left me in shock, especially towards the end. Aelin is a complete badass, as always, and I can confirm that my love for Rowan has grown considerably in this book (I knew it would happen eventually). It left me excited to read Empire of Storms, which I am currently reading, and it was so easy to give it 5 stars. You can check out my full review here.

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

rebel spring

By the time I had finished reading Queen of Shadows, the next two in the Falling Kingdoms series had arrived, so I was pretty certain with what I would be reading next. Once again I was drawn into the story and enjoyed everything that happened. The story definitely starts to develop more in this one and there wasn’t as much action unfortunately. However, we got to learn more about the characters and what means the most to them. You can read my 4 star review here.

Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

gathering darkness

Well, this series just got kicked up a notch and it was torture not being able to carry on with the series (I hadn’t ordered the next ones at this point). I love how unpredictable the books are and I never really know what is going to happen. There was a lot of character development in Gathering Darkness, with some events happening that changed the lives of a few. We get to see a different side to Magnus and we realise how dangerous Lucia can be. As well as this, there was the introduction of some new characters that are probably going to feature a lot in Frozen Tides. In the end I gave this a solid 5 stars and you can find my review here.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

scythe

May was the month that I finally found a sci-fi book that I fell in love with! Something I have mentioned before is that I don’t tend to read books from this genre, but I took a chance with Scythe and I am so glad that I did. This book is incredible and so unique! I love the ideas behind the world and how everything functions, with the Thunderhead governing the world and the Scythedom deciding how to whittle the population down through gleaning. There are so many twists within the story and unexpected events. I was blown away! One of the easiest 5 star ratings I have ever give, and you can read my thoughts here.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

ace of shades

A last minute approval from NetGalley saw this book make its way into my reading list and I felt very lucky to have been given the chance to read it. Ace of Shades was such an enjoyable read, with great characters and a unique world that is mimicked off of Las Vegas. There are high stakes, a tonne of mystery and plenty of banter between the characters. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and cannot wait until King of Fools comes out next year. I ended up giving this a solid 4 stars and if you want to know my full thoughts, click here.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

ruin and rising

And last, but not least, I finished off the Grisha trilogy with Ruin and Rising, which I just finished my review of today. I always hate finishing a series off, but I guess the good thing is that I have two spin-off series to look forward to in the future. Ruin and Rising offered, what I thought, was the perfect ending for the characters and so much happened. There were a couple plot twists that I wasn’t expecting and a lot of heartache for the characters. While this series isn’t the best (I much preferred Bardugo’s writing in The Language of Thorns) it still captured my heart and for that reason I gave this 5 stars, which you can read about here.

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There we have it! Turns out every book I read this month was 4 stars and above, which is pretty good going I think. I loved all these books for different reasons and they have made me even more excited for the books I am reading in June.

What was your favourite book that you read in May?

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

ruin and rising

Title: Ruin and Rising (Grishaverse #3)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Date: 17th June 2014

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

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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