‘Resurrection’ Review

‘Resurrection’ Review

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Three years ago, the Skulduggery Pleasant series came to a beautiful end – I was terrified that Derek Landy wasn’t going to give us the happy ending we all wanted for Valkyrie and Skulduggery, but thankfully they survived to live another day. You cannot imagine my excitement when I found out last year that there was going to be a second series coming out this year. And Landy did not disappoint.

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I was a little worried before I sat down to read Skulduggery Pleasant: Resurrection because every other time I’ve gotten this excited about something I always ended up feeling a little disappointed. However Resurrection took me right back to when I was reading the first book at 13. There is just something about the comedic aspect to Landy’s writing that completely draws you in – the overall tone was exactly like the original books and had me giggling to myself within minutes. Landy just has a way with description that makes the page ooze with sarcasm, and you really can’t help but laugh. That’s partly why I’m still reading these books at 23 – there is something completely timeless about the narrative that makes it something for everyone to enjoy.

Now that Valkyrie is 24, there was a more serious aspect to Landy’s writing that we had a glimpse of in his second series Demon Road. Valkyrie wasn’t the sarcastic little girl she was before the Darquesse events; she had been forever changed by the horrors that were unwittingly inflicted at her hands. I loved this traumatised aspect to her character – the way that Landy described her depression was just perfect and it really made her character seem so much more real. It made you really feel for her as a character, especially towards the end of the novel where she starts thinking about how she should have spent more time with her family. It’s so nice to see her character still evolving!

All the old characters that were included were once again fabulous – I love love LOVE Skulduggery’s sharp wit and it never fails to make me laugh. It was nice to see some newer characters too – Omen was pretty awesome, and someone that readers can identify with. Landy didn’t solely tell the story from Valkyrie’s point of view, and used these other chapters to weave in some juicy little plot threads that I’m sure he’ll pick up later in the series. I was intrigued by Sebastian, as well as the very hilarious and pretty spot on fictional version of Donald Trump – Landy’s satirical wit was definitely at its finest here! I’m curious to see where Landy is going to take us next with some of these plot threads. Though I do hope that we get to see Tanith Low sometime!

The plot was pretty spot on. I was gripped from start to finish, and the plot twist around Lethe was pretty damn awesome. Landy has done a superb job with easing us back into Skulduggery and Valkyrie’s world, and in the best way possible – throwing us right into the action, it really makes you crave reading more from this story world. You have no idea how excited I am for the next book in the series!! I’d give it a 5/5 because Landy is just awesome and it consistently shows in his writing.

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Last Friday I was also fortunate enough to get to see Derek Landy in Birmingham Waterstones! He was so funny, and discussed some things from Resurrection and how version 2 of the series is going to be more like a tv series than like films as he’d planned the original series – it should be more detailed, and Landy already an idea of how the series is going to end before he’d even written Resurrection. Omen was his favourite character to write, which was pretty awesome – Omen is aimed at the people who have grown up reading about Skulduggery and Valkyrie, and is such a likeable character! However Landy stressed that it is still very much Valkyrie’s story, which was nice to hear – Landy discussed how he felt it important to include Valkyrie’s depression and PTSD, and I wholeheartedly agree with him because it made her character more well rounded and realistic. Landy came out with a brilliant quote as well in reference to showing more diversity and stuff in characters: you are the change you want to make. I think that is an absolute brilliant snippet, and is definitely true!

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Plus meeting Landy was amazing, although a little awkward – the guy in front of me in the queue’s phone died, and he asked if I could take a picture of him and Landy and send it to him over Facebook. If that had been my phone I would have been mortified that I couldn’t get a photo, so said yeah sure – then the lady who was helping out Landy with his signing offered to take the photo and then asked if I wanted to be in it as well (she’d missed the exchange about the dead phone) and I had to awkwardly explain in front of Landy that I didn’t know this stranger and was just doing him a favour, and then Landy told me I’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book because now the guy was going to get my number – I am so wonderfully awkward that I didn’t know how to say “Noooo no no no I was just being nice!” without making a complete tit out of myself. After last year’s dilemma when I met Maggie Stiefvater for the first time and the first words that left my mouth were “I STALK YOU ONLINE” I wanted to at least portray that I am not a psychopath. In retrospect it was really funny because after I’d had my photo Landy grinned and said “You two go exchange numbers you crazy kids!” Landy was just as funny in person as his narratives are, and he was such a nice guy! I’ll definitely be bringing all of my Landy novels to be signed next time I get the opportunity!

imageI am so glad I didn’t embarrass myself like last year in YALC (sorry Maggie I’m not creepy I swear)!

‘A Court Of Wings And Ruin’ Review

‘A Court Of Wings And Ruin’ Review

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I absolutely love this series. I don’t know if I would have loved it so much if I’d started with the Throne of Glass series first, but I’m so glad I started with this one. I’ve always been a sucker for fantasies, and this story world is just up my alley.

I really love Feyre as a character – she’s got all the badasserry that I loved about Calaena before she became annoying, and there’s something about her character that just seems more genuine (though I was warming back up to Calaena in Queen of Shadows). I especially loved how beautifully vengeant she was towards Tamlin, more so because of how much I dislike his controlling character. I was a little worried that Maas would keep us in the Spring Court longer than she did, but the pacing throughout this novel was so well done and there was never a dull moment in the plot. There was always some key element to the story going on, which kept me glued to the page.

I did love this novel, but was a little worried as to whether Maas would drag out this war between Prythian and Hybern into more than this book – thankfully she didn’t, and ended it in such a beautiful way. Most of the novel saw Feyre and Rhysand preparing for this war, and the whole plot culminated in such a brutal way that I was absolutely terrified about what Maas was going to do with the characters – I was sat in tears for a good half an hour at one point towards the end of the novel and honest to God don’t think I’ve still recovered.

I love the overall feel to the story world, though this novel in particular felt a lot more political than the last two did. I was still engrossed as to what was going to happen, but there was still a light hearted aspect to the previous two novels that this one seemed to lack. I was so happy that Lucian stayed in the plot, as I thought Maas was going to try and blacken his name along with Tamlin – but thankfully that didn’t happen as I really do love his character.

The romance between Rhysand and Feyre is just perfect – I still find any kind of sex scene really cringey, but that’s mainly because they come across in such a voyeuristic way that it really feels unnecessary to the overall plot. We get it – they’re in love. You don’t need to spend several pages detailing what exactly they do when they’re in the bedroom to show us that.

As much as I cannot stand Tamlin’s character, he really redeemed himself in this novel for me. He started off being just as irritating as before, but with some key events that happened half way through the novel and one in particular towards the end, he wasn’t as annoying as he graciously accepted the fact Feyre was never going to come back to him. THANK GOD.

As awesome as the plot was, and as relieved as I was that Maas isn’t planning on dragging this war out across several more novels, I am a little curious to see where Maas is going to take this series next. She tied up so many plot threads in A Court Of Mist and Fury that it’ll be interesting to see her take a new direction with this series. I am so glad Maas didn’t go where I thought she was going to go with the ending though, because I don’t think I could have coped once I’d finished reading! I would give it a 5/5 because the story was pretty damn awesome, and the ending really traumatised me at points.

http://sarahjmaas.com/

@SJMaas

‘Blind Tiger’ Review

‘Blind Tiger’ Review

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Aaaaah I loved this book so much! Rachel Vincent is one of my all time favourite authors – since I picked up the Shifters series in The Works as a teenager, I have been an avid follower of everything she has published. So when she announced a Shifters spin off series that she was publishing herself, and that she would be offering signed copies if we bought them directly from herself, I damn well jumped at the chance.

As excited as I was for this series, I was a little bit disappointed by the first novel, Lion’s Share. I think it was one of those things where you build it up to be this amazing thing in your head and it struggled to live up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I loved returning to the Shifters world and Vincent’s narrative that captured my imagination so much as a teenager – but it wasn’t quite what I had been hoping for. It did feel a little pulp fictionesque but I think that was mainly because Vincent focused more on the romance between Jace and Abby. I do love a good romance, but recently I’ve started to get a bit antsy with novels where the whole plot revolves around the romance and nothing else. I love a good rom com just like the next girl, but a strong narrative is something that I find makes the story so much better.

Blind Tiger, however, had everything I love about Vincent’s writing style AND the kind of narrative I was looking for in a novel. This was so so good! There is so much amazing stuff to say about this novel honest to God, and when you think about how Vincent has SELF PUBLISHED THIS AND IT IS DAMN AMAZING this is definitely a novel to be proud of.

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First of all the thing that I always love about Vincent’s novels are the strong female characters she has telling the story from a first person narrative. Faythe Sanders captured the budding feminist in me with the injustices that were being bestowed on her purely because she had a vagina and her Pride was reliant on her for them to carry on reproducing. UGH. Her fury at being told to conform to being the precious little china doll elevated on a pedestal really resonated with me, and that really came back to me with Robyn’s character. Lion’s Share took us back into the Shifter world with Abby, who was an enjoyable character to read about, but she didn’t have the same connection with me that Faythe did. Robyn, however, is a newly infected stray that has had her old life ripped away from her – all that freedom, and now she’s being studied and told she can no longer have the life she had wanted for herself. Her fury at the obvious sexism in the Pride system really struck a chord with me, as this was something she had no choice over. Plus if you’d already tasted that kind of freedom and suddenly had it taken away from you, like hell were you gonna not fight tooth and nail to get it back. So Robyn’s characterisation was a big big plus for me in this novel, and I really connected with her as a character. Titus was pretty cool too – I loved how much he was trying to do to protect his brother. It was so heartwarming and made him such a likeable character. This gave a more 3D feel to his characterisation, as he wasn’t simply the drop dead gorgeous love interest that purely served as eye candy for the protagonist.

Then we get onto the plot – DAMN!! Lion’s Share, as I said, focused more on the romance – Blind Tiger did have a romance in it between Robyn and Titus but because there was so much else going on in the narrative it wasn’t stifling. This plot was so well thought out, and knitted together so well. First we have Robyn escaping captivity from the Pride she’s being held in, then we move into more drama when a stray is pulled into the main house. There were so many twists and turns in this novel that I was literally glued to the page – I thoroughly loved guessing what was going to happen next and thinking about where Vincent was going with the plot. It was really well done, and the fact that she has managed to secure such a tight knit plot without a team of publishers behind her is truly a testament to how amazing she is as a writer. Though I am obviously biased, unless you had told me this was a self published book I would never have been able to guess that it was because the prose was so clean.

I especially love this world that Vincent has created. I’ve said in previous blog posts that I love anything related to the supernatural, and this series and the original series is one of the reasons why. It is just so well thought out as a concept, and I love the structure of their world and how the Shifters act with one another and their surrounding world. It was such a treat to get to revisit this world again!

This novel was so well thought out and so well written – I really hope Vincent writes a third Wildcats novel because I can’t wait to get my hands on it and find out who’s story we’ll learn about next! As much as I loved reading Faythe’s original Shifters series, it’s actually quite nice to move between characters. Plus I liked how we could still see that things are working out for Abby and Jace after what happened at the end of Lion’s Share, and it was really lovely to see some of the characters from the original series even if it was only briefly.

I honestly can’t recommend this book enough – if you’ve read the original Shifter’s series but haven’t started on these books yet, do that as soon as you can because these are just damn brilliant. I loved this book so much, I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it is. I would give it a 5/5 because Vincent is an absolute master of her craft, and I am so glad she decided to treat us all to this spin off! If you want to get your hands on a signed copy of any of Vincent’s books, make sure to stalk her Facebook page as I’m pretty sure she announced a collaboration with a local bookstore near where she lives. And if you haven’t read the Wildcats series yet or the Shifters series, go do that now!

 

http://www.rachelvincent.com

https://www.facebook.com/rachelkvincent/?fref=ts

@rachelkvincent

‘The Bone Sparrow’ Review

‘The Bone Sparrow’ Review

 

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After reading two fairly boring novels, I really needed a fresh narrative to sink my teeth into. ‘The Bone Sparrow’ was the perfect thing to read next. ‘The Bone Sparrow’ tells the story of Subhi, a refugee. Unlike the other refugees in the detention camp, Subhi was born there so knows no different than this world we are introduced into.

This was the perfect way to look at the refugee crisis. Subhi’s child like narrative gives us the sense of innocence that people seem to over look when talking about immigrants and refugees – at the end of the day, these are people who just want to be able to look after their families. Plus this is a subject which I feel really strongly about, so it was fairly obvious I was going to love this novel.

Zana Fraillon paints Subhi’s character perfectly – from the language that Subhi used to describe everything, Fraillon creates such a beautifully innocent character that you can’t help falling in love with. You automatically want to protect him because he is still a child. It makes you feel so much sympathy for the poor people who live this reality every day.

I loved the interaction between Subhi and Jimmie – there was something so innocent about their little friendship that it fills you with hope that there’s going to be a happy ending for all the characters in the story. Plus I loved when Subhi came to Jimmie’s rescue – that was such a beautiful moment in the story.

The ending hit me hard – I did not see that coming, despite the escalation of the events that happened in the camp. I felt so sorry for Subhi and what he was feeling after that horrible conclusion! It hit me right in the feels. From the way Subhi had been describing Eli’s character through out the whole story, it made you almost forget that he was also a child, which made the last part of the novel so much harder to accept.

I cannot recommend this novel enough. The characters were beautiful, and Subhi’s narrative keeps that child like naivety that adds an extra layer to the story. The way that he looks at and interacts with other characters through out the novel gives you a much clearer sense of who they are as people – children don’t tend to lie, and his characterisation of Beaver makes it clear that he’s a horrible character. I loved the Shakespeare duck too – that was a really cute and funny added layer to Subhi’s narrative. I loved the cheesy jokes the duck came out with, as well as the duck’s confidence. Plus there was a flip book style design of a bird in the bottom corner of every page, which was so cool!

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I would give it a 5/5 because it was such a beautiful story, and Fraillon really does these people justice. I am so glad I picked this up from the library!

 

 

@ZanaFraillon

 

‘Lord of the Flies’ Review

‘Lord of the Flies’ Review

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I loved the premise of this novel. A group of boys ending up stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere and then slowly descending into madness. It started off well, but after a few pages I found myself really struggling to get through it. I loved the imagery that William Golding used throughout the novel – such as how Piggy wasn’t allowed his own name and was stuck with the animal’s nickname to draw a comparison between himself and the pigs that the boys start to hunt on the island. There were loads of little things like that which I just loved.

I loved the descent into madness from the boys, and how they slowly turned savage – though I wasn’t sure as to whether there were racist implications in this, mainly from a descriptive passage towards the end of the novel. Plus the fact they felt the need to start painting their faces? I really liked the stylistic elements to his writing, but there aspects of the plot that were actually quite boring and made it harder to plough through.

I loved the escalation of events, and I loved the ideas behind the novel but there was something lacking from the plot that would have made it an amazing novel. It was just a really dry narrative – I think from the lack of warmth in the narrative? Something was just missing. Plus this might just be me being really picky, but I am fairly certain Golding knows nothing of choir boys. The type of upper/middle class boys that would even admit to liking singing, let alone being in a boys choir at such a young age would not certainly start stomping around wanting to kill things to turn into “mindless savages”. That might just be me, but from the choir people I know, that wouldn’t happen. Maybe this was meant to show how a lack of authority would send even the most civilised people into disorder, but I’m not too sure about that.

The idea was interesting, but there was just something missing that could have made it so much better. To the point where I can’t really think of anything else to say about the novel! Plus the ending was a little abrupt. There were no consequences for some of their actions which was a little frustrating.

I would give it a 3/5. I can get why it’s classed as literary, but it needed something more to be an amazing novel.

 

‘The Law and the Lady’ Review

‘The Law and the Lady’ Review

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It took me forever to read this book. Normally I love a good Wilkie Collins novel, so I’m surprised it took me so long to finish it. Though I had heard the novels he wrote after his critique partner Charles Dickens died weren’t up to the same standard as novels like ‘The Woman in White’ were.

The set up to ‘The Law and the Lady’ was slow, but once the reveal of Valeria’s husband’s secret comes to light it had all the promise that Collins’ other novels have. Yet it kind of stagnated pretty soon after. Eustace’s refusal to even listen to what Valeria had to say about his trial really pissed me off. You would have been able to understand his motivation if she’d agreed with the suspicion that he had murdered his first wife, but she blatantly cared for and believed him so what was the point in this??

Ugh. The husband annoyed me so much. Just the shitty way he treated Valeria was so annoying. From the way he treated her after she said she was going to get the verdict overturned, I found it hard to see what she was fighting for in their relationship. The mystery was intriguing, and the whole concept of the Scottish verdict a little confusing – surely if they couldn’t prove he was guilty then it’s a not guilty verdict? Though it was more Eustace’s attitude to Valeria that really put me off the plot.

Then we get on to the Dexter character. At first he was intriguing, and then gradually became more and more annoying. Though it was his description that bothered me more than anything. At first I was quite interested in the fact that Collins had included a disabled character, as this seemed quite a progressive thing for someone from his era to include in their writing – not to mention the fact that the main protagonist was a woman starring in a detective story, which is certainly damn well progressive for the time. Though this went downhill quite fast – Collins seemed to focus on making Dexter’s personality to be as weird and creepy as possible. He couldn’t focus on making a character with a disability a normal thing, he had to exaggerate the weird aspects of his character such as the crawling around on his hands and the very strange dialogue – it just took the focus away from the main plot point of trying to prove Eustace as innocent. Plus I didn’t really understand what the correlation between Dexter’s disability and madness was – Collins seemed to be doing this on purpose to make the reader even more disgusted with Dexter than they would have been just with his disability. It was bizarre and didn’t add to the overall narrative.

The ending was good because I didn’t see that plot twist coming, but it was completely dampened by everything else that had happened up until this point. Plus it was annoying how much of a wet lettuce Valeria was being after her husband effectively left her, and then suddenly he’d changed his mind?? Ugh. It just annoyed me and spoiled any good I’d found in the narrative, which was a real shame because I’ve loved all of the other novels I’ve read by him. Collins got his point about the Scottish verdict across very well – that someone’s reputation is still tarnished even when they’ve not been proved guilty of a crime – but it was ruined by all the other things that annoyed me about this novel.

I’d give it a 3/5 because the overall writing was good, but the plot was lacking in comparison to some of his other novels I’ve read and was quite disappointing.

 

 

‘Queen of Shadows’ Review

‘Queen of Shadows’ Review

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This was a much better continuation of the series. ‘Crown of Midnight’ nearly lost me, but I’d already bought all the novels at that point because I’d enjoyed the first one so much. ‘Heir of Fire’ rekindled my interest, though parts of Celaena’s now apparent characterisation still really annoyed me. She was now being cast as a simpering waif who just felt really sorry for herself, when this wasn’t how she was portrayed in the first novel at all. ‘Queen of Shadows’ returned more to the tone and overall feel of the first novel, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading it – however there were some things that grated on me.

I like the fact Maas has started telling other chapters from other characters’ points of view. It means that the things that annoy me about Celeana – or Aelin as she has now dubbed herself in her chapters – aren’t as grating. I especially loved the chapters told from Dorian’s perspective, and those shared between Manon Blackbeak and Elide. These give us an extra layer to Maas’ narrative, and personally I find Manon a much more entertaining character.

What I liked about Celeana in ‘Throne of Glass’ was the fact that Maas didn’t shy away from the fact Celaena was meant to be one of the best assassins in her field. I still like that about this series, don’t get me wrong – the only issue with it is Maas runs the risk of pushing Celaena into the Mary Sue category as a character by doing this. A Mary Sue character is a 2D character with no depth who is absolutely amazing at everything, and everyone automatically loves them for no apparent reason, or characters hate them for no apparent reason – they basically have such poor characterisation that they are in no way believable as a character. Unfortunately, Maas seems to be heading this way with Celaena. Rowan and Aedion for some reason automatically worship the ground she walks on without really any reason – Aedion is meant to be her cousin but hasn’t seen her for ten years, so won’t have any idea what kind of a person she is. Rowan at first displayed contempt towards her, then all of a sudden in the last book changes his mind and likes her, and for some reason in this book has developed overwhelming sexual feelings towards her and this might be me being petty but there is no explained reasoning for any of this. It just seems Rowan has automatically fallen for Celaena just because she’s this amazing Mary Sue character – which really annoyed me because I loved her character in the first novel!

Maas also seemed to be taking Chaol down the same simpering waif route, which annoyed me because I liked his character. I mean really?? Just have him as a rebel sympathiser without the added moping rubbish, because it completely jarred with his character. Yes he would be upset at the loss of his friend Dorian, but it would be much more effective for him to just get on with his story and try to find a way to free Dorian. Maas seemed to be using as much of Chaol’s chapters as possible to shove in readers’ faces that he’s never going to go out with Celaena. I liked Nesryn as a character, but she had blatantly only been shoved into the narrative to stop readers shipping Chaol and Celaena together. It really does feel like Maas is just plotting as she goes from book to book at times, rather than have an overarching plot arc thought out well in advance. It’s just really annoying as this romantic aspect to the plot which Maas is trying to add really jarred on me when I read it. It’s just the way she’s trying to write this in – it’s just coming across as a really clumsy way to do it. Maybe that’s why I loved Manon’s chapters so much because there wasn’t a romantic interest! It made her story so much more interesting. It’s almost as if Maas feels that her main characters must have a romance plot line otherwise they won’t be interesting, but that just isn’t the case. I much preferred Celaena when she didn’t have any romantic crap going on.

The plot was much stronger in this novel – it was more gripping than ‘Crown of Midnight’, and more interesting plot wise than ‘Heir of Fire’ though the third novel did get better towards the end. I loved Manon Blackbeak’s chapters as I love the Blackbeak culture! I loved how Manon was debating whether to follow orders from her Grandmother when she felt they were the wrong thing to do. I really loved how her character developed through out this novel! Plus these chapters gave us more of an idea what the King of Adarlan was up to, which was infinitely more interesting than Celaena’s love life.

The plot was so much more gripping – the parts of Celaena’s narrative which I did like were the ones when she was going after Arobynn. I loved their entire interaction, as this was a much more interesting aspect of Celaena’s life. I loved the new character Lysandra, but again her interaction didn’t quite sit right with me. They were introduced as life long enemies, and all of a sudden Lysandra changed her mind and thought “Actually I like you!” That just wouldn’t happen. I did love her character though, so I overlooked that massive plot hole. If they had disliked each other in their previous lives before these novels take place, they still would have felt a dislike towards one another.

I loved the ending! Both in Morath with Kaltain and the Blackbeaks – a beautiful way to stall what was happening under the mountain! – as well as the plot twist surrounding the King of Adarlan’s motivations. I looooved that plot twist and did not see it coming! Though thinking back over the hint of the black rings, it seemed fairly obvious once it had been revealed. Though I liked this plot twist, there was still the hint as to whether the King was actually telling the truth. Plus with the nostalgic ending with Aelin, it was a much better book than the last two! I can’t wait to read ‘Empire of Storms’ to find out what happens next.

Though there were some things that annoyed me, I would give it a 4/5. I’ll probably overlook the niggles about Celaena’s charactisation because there are so many other characters I enjoy reading about, and I really want to find out what’s going to happen next. I think Manon has to be my absolute fav.

 

 

@SJMaas