Review: Tower of Dawn

September 27, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

Review: Tower of DawnTower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #6
Published by Bloomsbury on 5th September 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

In case you aren’t aware, Tower of Dawn is the Chaol novella that Maas was working out that turned into a full-length novel – 660 pages! The timing of this book coincides with the happenings of Empire of Storms, so although they are separate books they are really following the one timeline. Make sense?

I was pretty excited to hear that Chaol would get his own novella, so I was delighted when I heard it had developed into an entire novel! I completely loved Chaol in the first two books of this series but felt he got a raw deal in the latter books. I really hoped that without Aelin as the focus we’d get Chaol back, and I think we did!

Aside from the prospect of a whole book about Chaol, I was very interested as to how Maas would handle his injury and wheelchair use. Many of you know that I have mobility issues and frequently require the use of my wheelchair as a result of illness. So I was equally intrigued (and rather nervous) as to how it and Chaol’s adjustment to his new life would be handled.

On the whole, I was very happy with the way Maas dealt with Chaol’s injury. She really captured many of the issues that  I myself have struggled with since needing help and the use of my chair to get about. In fact, there were passages where I cried, such was the impact, relevance, and portrayal of Chaol’s battles. At times I felt like Sarah was writing about me, particularly in that first half of the book. I’m very grateful to Maas for bringing these issues into her hugely popular books. While Chaol’s struggles won’t reflect everyone, they certainly reflect mine and I’m grateful that, through Chaol, some awareness may be raised.

I appreciated that while Chaol was being treated with magic, he still had to fight. It was a process, a battle. View Spoiler »

As for the story itself, I’ve seen people say that it didn’t need to be as long as it was. Perhaps that’s the case, but I would’ve read it at twice the length.

Yes, it was kind of predictable in places but I really didn’t care, as there was much that wasn’t predictable. In fact there were a couple of bombshells! We find out a lot more about Antica, Erilea and the Valg. If you think this is a secondary novel and you aren’t sure about reading then let me say that you must; there is important information in this book!

I also really loved how Maas continues to reintroduce her novella characters in this series. If you haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade collection of prequel novellas then I urge you to do so to get the most from this novel and the series as a whole.

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel and getting to spend more time with Chaol. I loved meeting the new characters, learning more about the world and I just can’t wait for book seven!

four-half-stars

Review: The Edge Of Everything

January 25, 2017 in Book Reviews, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Edge Of EverythingThe Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Published by Bloomsbury on 9th February 2017 (UK)
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

I drafted a summary but honestly the synopsis above probably covers it best so go read that!

Done? Ok, so Zoe, her Mum and her 8 year old brother Jonah are struggling to cope with Zoe’s father’s sudden death. It’s them against the world!

I actually really liked the relationship between Zoe and Jonah. We get an insight into the grief of not just a 17 year old, but also an 8 year old boy with ADHD. This part of the book, I liked.

I also really liked the concepts in this book. Without saying too much, I enjoyed the detail of the Lowlands, the idea of bounty hunters and this darker side of the book.

However, I really struggled with the romance element. I’ll try to explain why!

The opening of this book is dark, action-packed and I fully expected to enjoy a thrilling read. Then comes the relationship between X and Zoe. Wow, I struggled with this. It was all so ‘instant’. I felt that not only this relationship, but X’s one with Jonah, just lacked detail. I found it unbelievable and unsubstantive. It bothered me the entire way through the book.

I also took issue with the fact that this thrilling, dark opening suddenly changed and lost pace. There was a lull in the middle of the book where I had to force myself to keep reading. That said, the pace picked up again towards the end and it became more of the thrilling read the opening pages promised.

There were parts I really enjoyed: the concepts, the darkness, the explorations of grief, the twist! But I just couldn’t get beyond the romance that we were just supposed to accept, with little foundation. It grated on me the whole way through and ultimately affected my enjoyment of this novel.

three-stars

Review: Stealing Snow

September 25, 2016 in Book Reviews, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Stealing SnowStealing Snow by Danielle Paige
Series: Stealing Snow #1
Published by Bloomsbury on 6th October 2016 (UK)
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
one-half-stars

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn't belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave …
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate …

I actually don’t know what to say. I don’t like being negative and yet I fear this post will be just that. I really wanted to enjoy this Stealing Snow so much but ultimately I didn’t.

I rarely DNF books, in fact I can’t remember the last time I did, but I seriously considered it midway through this book. I didn’t though, I read to the end but this really wasn’t a book for me.

Described as a reimagining of The Snow Queen, we open to find a 17 year old girl, Snow, living in an asylum in upstate New York. She has been there since she was 6 with her mother visiting monthly. Aside from her dedicated nurse her only friend is a fire-obsessed fellow patient, Bale.

When Snow and Bale are segregated all Snow wants to do is see Bale; she loves him. So when he mysteriously disappears from the asylum, she sets out to try and find him. Her journey takes her into another world, Algid, a world of ice, magic, fear and secrets.

Personally, I felt this book had so much potential, but I just really did not like its execution.

The story itself moved fairly quickly but I very much felt it lacked detail. It felt rushed, almost more like the bones of a story than a finished work. Given that this is the first book in a trilogy I was surprised by this. It’s not as though the author was trying to cram it all into one book!

I also found that I really didn’t care very much about Snow. I didn’t dislike her, but I didn’t like her either. I could’ve put this book down half way through and never missed her character or wonder what became of her.

I guess my third issue kind of combines the two above. This girl is constantly banging on about Bale, her love, and yet within no time of meeting another male character she is swooning over him. Yes, I get that she has spent her life confined in an asylum but I just didn’t find these interactions believable.  It wasn’t even as though she showed any interest to begin with, then somewhere midway through their story we are blindsided by her swoony thoughts on them.

All in all I was really disappointed with this book. It felt too rushed, there wasn’t enough detail, the romance element, if that’s what it was, was off, and at times I didn’t even enjoy the writing. That said, I think perhaps the reason this book irritated me so much was the fact that this story has so much potential.

Part of me wonders where the story will go in books two and three, but in all honesty I will not be reading on in this series.

one-half-stars

Review: The Winner’s Kiss

March 24, 2016 in Book Reviews, Bookish Posts, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Winner’s KissThe Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #3
Published by Bloomsbury on 24th March 2016 (UK)
Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

The empire is at war and a heartbroken Arin leads his people to battle. But he can't forget Kestrel - or how she's betrayed him. Kestrel is a sly, ruthless killer, caring more for the glory of the empire than for the lives of innocent people - and certainly more than for him.

At least, that's what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is sentenced to life imprisonment in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for an escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they've done to her.

But no-one gets what they want just by wishing.

The day is finally here, the final installment of The Winner’s Trilogy, The Winner’s Kiss is out in the UK today! Obviously this post is going to be some of my thoughts on this third book, so if you haven’t yet read this series then I have three suggestions for you.

  1. If you have a long weekend this weekend get yourself down to your local bookshop, buy all three books in the trilogy and binge-read!
  2. If you don’t have a long weekend, how about entering my wee giveaway where you could win a book of your choice… one of The Winner’s Trilogy books perhaps?
  3. Stop reading this post now to avoid spoiling this series for yourself!

Ok, if you’re still with me then you are probably interested in some of my thoughts on this book. The short version? I LOVED IT! It was everything I hoped it would be – action, culture, emotion, warfare. In fact I’d say it’s my favourite book of the three!

Long version? Here we go…

This book picks up where The Winner’s Crime left us. Arin is headed back to Herran, heart-broken and convinced that Kestrel isn’t the person he thought she was. Meanwhile, Kestrel is in a sulphur work camp in the northern tundra, being drugged into work each morning and drugged into sleep at night. As she tries to hold on to what she can of her own memories before the drugs take over, she wishes that Arin would know her true feelings and the truth behind her lies. She gives up hope that the Herrani man into whose hand she thrust the moth would help her, and in her more lucid moments she can’t forget that it was her father that put her here.

The Valorian empire, led by Kestrel’s father the General, continue to set their sights on Herran. Arin’s fragile alliance with the Dacrans might be the only thing that will save his people, but what will this alliance cost him?

I contemplated putting a spoilers section in this post but I’ve decided against it, I don’t want to be responsible for any spoiling of this book for you. I want you to go through the same emotions I went through, the same tension, hope and frustrations. evil laugh*

I will, however, share some spoiler-free things that I LOVED about this book with you…

 

  • Arin, obviously.  I didn’t think it would be possible for me to love this character more, but I was wrong. His dedication to friendships, kindness and loyalty, his relationship with the God of death, his ruthlessness… if you don’t come out of this book with more love than ever for Arin then you must have a heart of stone. ;D

 

  • Roshar. This guy! Despite spending most of the book uncertain of his allegiances I couldn’t help but love him. His banter, his attitude and his tiger all had me laughing!

 

  • the action & warfare. Personally, I felt that The Winner’s Crime lacked in action. This book certainly doesn’t. In my post on The Winner’s Curse I talked about how Rutkoski had drawn inspiration from antiquity, in particular the Greco-Roman war, and I think that inspiration shines through in this novel – something I really enjoyed.

 

  • the culture. While I felt that The Winner’s Crime was more centered around the Valorians and their culture, I was delighted to be back in Herran in this book, steeped in their culture as well as that of the Dacran people. One of the things that I adore about this series is the world-building, the attention to detail and the cultures and beliefs of the different nationalities.

 

I could go on, but I’m going to make myself stop here before this becomes a ridiculously long post. Looking back at the series as a whole, I really enjoyed the first book, enjoyed the second but not at much and I LOVED this final installment. I kind of now want to go back and read the whole thing again – a good sign surely?

This book was everything I hoped it would be, the perfect end to the trilogy. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book and the trilogy as a whole. Which was your favourite book? Who’s your favourite character? Thank you Marie Rutkoski for an emotional journey!

 

five-stars

Review: The Winner’s Crime

March 22, 2016 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

Review: The Winner’s CrimeThe Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Published by Bloomsbury on March 2015
Genres: YA Fantasy, Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
four-stars

Lady Kestrel's engagement to Valoria's crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust ...

While Arin fights to keep his country's freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth.

Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Do you ever shout at the tv? You’re watching a film or a tv series and shouting almost pantomime-style “he’s behind you” or “no, don’t go in there”, “just tell him”, “kiss him you idiot”? (Hopefully that’s not just a Rhoda-thing.) Well I found myself doing that a lot with this book. A LOT!

Obviously if you haven’t read the first book (you can find my review here) then don’t keep reading this post. Maybe hop over and enter my wee giveaway instead? You could pick The Winner’s Curse as your prize?

Ok so, this book is largely set in the Valorian Capital. Having agreed to marry Prince Verex in order to save the lives of Arin and his people, Kestrel is living in the Palace. She is under the watchful eye of Emporer, whose evil character continues to develop throughout this book. As for Arin, per the terms of the treaty, he is now Governer of Herran. He is unaware of Kestrel’s sacrifice though, the reason she is engaged to the Valorian Prince, and in this book we soon see that Kestrel has no intention of telling him.

There are various events happening at the Palace to mark the engagement of Lady Kestrel and Prince Verex. Respresentatives from far and wide are expected to attend, which inevitably includes Arin. It’s Kestrel’s belief that acting coldly toward Arin, hiding her true feelings is for the best. Yet she makes a secret agreement with Arin’s advisor Tensen to spy for him, to help Arin and Herran from inside the Palace… on the condition that Arin knows nothing about it.

My internal shouting at the book was a result of the ongoing situation with Kestrel and Arin – Kestrel’s seeming rejection of Arin, Arin’s belief that Kestrel is hiding something, the fact that they’d meet and I just wanted Kestrel to tell the truth! I think reading from the perspectives of both characters intentisies this feeling for the reader, well it certainly did for me. While I may have found this somewhat frustrating, I simultaneously found it utterly addictive – I couldn’t stop reading.

It was interesting to see an expansion of the world that Rutkoski created in the first book. I discussed in my review of The Winner’s Curse my interest in the world, its cultures and customs. Book two expands upon this somewhat as well as introducing us to the people and cultures of Dacra.

I also found the further exploration of Kestrel’s relationship with her father to be interesting. You’ll recall Kestrel’s desperate need to please her father in the first book, I enjoyed the development of that relationship in this book.

There are both old and new characters in this book. There’s cruelty, torture, hatred but there’s also friendship, new alliances, love and a tiger (I just thought I’d throw that in there).

In all honesty, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first. I kind of felt like this book is bridging the gap, setting things up for book three. Maybe I’m totally wrong in saying that, but that’s just the feeling I had. I’ve already started The Winner’s Kiss which is out in the UK later this week. I’m hoping for more action, less internal shouting on my part and an epic ending to the series. I’ll let you know my thoughts soon!

What were your thoughts on The Winner’s Crime?

Did you enjoy it as much as the first book? 

four-stars