Crown of Midnight – a review

Throne of Glass was a fun book, and I enjoyed it, but Crown of Midnight is a much better sequel and I’m glad I picked it up! Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan’s deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies’ blood – but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.

Sarah J Maas does so much better with Celaena in this book. All the way through the first book we are told that she is an insanely talented assassin, but this doesn’t come across in any way, shape, nor form throughout the book. In other words we’re told not shown. Thankfully, in this book we actually get shown her skills various times and it makes it a lot more believable that she would win the original contest and be known and feared across the city.

One issue that I’ve had with both books so far is that the pacing at the beginning is SO SLOW. I find myself bored so much at the beginning of both books and then by the end I’m enamoured and wanting more! This kinda scares me for Heir of Fire because it’s a much bigger book and I really don’t want to be going through 100/200+ pages of boredom to get to the good bits.

Overall this book has made me want to carry on in the series and for me was so much better than the first book! I just hope that this trend continues!!! Have you read this series? If so tell me what to expect!

I always love Shusterman…

A book about water running dry, and you’re giving it to an often dehydrated chronic migraine sufferer with a degree in Geography? Yes please!

God this book was realistic. Creepily so. This is so close to what could actually happen if the taps ran dry, and California is an incredibly likely place for this to happen with its weather and the population density being so high.

This is a ya book, and our protagonists reflect that. We have a variety of view points, from around 13 to somewhere in the late teens (as a Brit I don’t know the US grade system so I can only approximate their ages without doing more research than I can be bothered to!) and this allows Neal and Jarrod to bounce around to different people’s priorities and how various personalities would react in this scenario.

Usually with Neal Shusterman’s writing I just fall into it and everything he writes gets 5* from me. I don’t know if it’s because he was writing with his son or if it’s just this book, but this “only” got a 4* from me. I found the middle to be a bit of a slog, and too much time was spent faffing around with “solutions” which we either already knew they were aiming for or knew they wouldn’t do. However, I still did enjoy the character development within these pages and also loved the beginning and the end of the story.

I’ve heard, on the grapevine, that this has been snapped up to be made as a movie, and I think it could do really well in this format. The slower stuff almost always has to be cut for a filmed adaptation so this should hopefully remove those parts that I was struggling through and focus on the drama and the action. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out on this one!

All in all this was actually a bit of a disappointment. Yes a 4* read was a disappointment. Because I know Neal Shusterman can make me fall in love with a world much more than he did here, and I went in expecting a 5* book and came out with an enjoyable story. But not with a new favourite.

I don’t know. I’ve not had this happen to me before so it’s a rather odd feeling. Have you ever had this experience? Let me know.

It’s most important to be you

If you watch booktube videos, you’ve probably watched Kala from Booksandlala and you’ve probably seen her talk about Stargirl. Before she read Dress Codes for Small Towns it was her favourite book, and I had never heard of it. I ended up grabbing it on my kindle to read for the Magical Readathon for Astronomy as I didn’t have any books I wanted to read that had “star” in the title.

I sat and read this on the train from Newcastle to London and I enjoyed the experience. We follow not from Stargirl’s perspective, but from Leo’s point of view, he’s a student at Mica High. Stargirl stands out, which is not normal at Mica High where everyone fits in with the status quo. She isn’t afraid to be loud and weird and just completely herself with no regard for how others perceive her.

This really is a great book for tweens/teens to show them that being themselves is the most important thing that they can do. At an age when you just want to blend in with the crowd, it’s important to remind people that standing out and being true to who they are is important too! I think that if I’d read this book when I was 12/13 I would’ve added it to my favourites and really enjoyed the message it portrayed, however, seeing as I’m not the target audience for this work anymore it’s not quite as much of a favourite. But I did still enjoy it and I’m glad that I can add this to the list of books I’ve read.

Cruel Crown

This is a novella comprising of two short stories, Queen Song and Steal Scars, from the Red Queen world by Victoria Aveyard. Before I had read this book, it’d been a while since I had been in this world, having read Glass Sword in January 2018 and getting around to this book in January 2019. I had been worried about diving back into this world and becoming confused, and yes, at the very beginning I was a little confused as to who I was reading about and at what point in time within the story I was at, however, this was quickly resolved and I knew what was going on. I also feel like the stories work well even if you don’t fully comprehend how they link to Red Queen as you read them, Victoria Aveyard has done a really good job in making them accessible to readers at any stage within this series.

Now onto the stories themselves, the first story within this collection,  Queen Song, is set well before the events within Red Queen and follows Cal’s mother in her journey to the court and how the world ended up like it did before Mare came crashing in. It’s quite a sad story, as you may be expecting if you remember being told about Cal’s mum in the first book, however, as I didn’t remember it took me off guard and was quite emotional.

The second, and last, story in this collection is Steel Scars, this book focuses on Farley and her rise within the Scarlet Guard. These events are much closer to the time of Red Queen, with the very end of the story overlapping slightly. It was really interesting to me to read about how this organisation works more and to see it from the point of view of someone within this system rather than from Mare’s view, where she doesn’t understand how it works or why.

Both of these stories were really interesting and I feel that they added significant value to the world, they’ve also made me more excited to read book three and continue with the series! I gave it 4/5* as a novella and I really do recommend if you enjoy the main books within the Red Queen series.

My first foray into the Legend trilogy

This was my first Marie Lu book, despite me owning six of her books before starting this one! So there was a lot of weight on this little books shoulders, and it is a small book, Goodreads says that it’s around 300 pages long but I could’ve sworn it was smaller!

I will be honest, the first 100 or so pages of this book weren’t going great. This happens for me with most books of this length or longer but this one, in particular, I was just… not that invested in the world. Thankfully, however, I ended up really enjoying it! This dystopian-esque world is so incredibly interesting to learn about and the development of the characters on either side of the battle.

There was so much depth to this book that I didn’t expect from only 300 pages, and there’s so much more to come from how this book was ended. I’m really looking forward to getting around the rest at some point in time that’s relatively soon, which makes it super annoying that the rest of the trilogy is at my parents’ place!! Hopefully, I can get them back soonish!

Have you read this book or the series? Should I bump the rest up on my tbr?

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant, a review

My boyfriend treated me to this book, as he was there when I saw it for the first time. I’ll be honest, the original draw was the cover, for me it was absolutely stunning and I just needed it! (The sprayed edges were also not helping with how much I needed it!)

Now onto the content of the book, I read through this so ridiculously quickly. I found it very hard to put down and I flew through it at what felt like the speed of light. Time became a foreign concept, as 2/3 hours seemed to vanish in the blink of an eye, I was that engrossed within this novel. I found this dark concept so interesting, it’s not something that I’ve personally read before and also the writing style flowed so smoothly that I was completely engrossed within this horrific world that Michael Grant created.

Mara can remember her name, but nothing else about herself or why she’s here. The Messenger of Fear stands before her, solemn and mysterious. Suddenly what she knows is tipped on her head, gruesome games are abound where karma is the motivator. Everyone must receive a punishment for their worst indiscretions, and that is either by those in their life… or it’s by the Messenger. Why is Mara watching this unfold? Why must she bare witness? She’s going to find out, slowly, painfully, and maybe she’ll wish she hadn’t.

This dark and gritty book is not for the younger reader, I would suggest around 14 years old (using your own discretion for individuals) is a good age, but I also 100% recommend adults to read it! It’s a YA book but I fully enjoyed it and am waiting on tenterhooks for book 3 (and I will be devastated if its release is canceled). There are detailed descriptions of violence and gore, hence the age recommendation, but these are done so well and means that the images are incredibly vivid in the mind. So enjoyable!

I definitely need to read more from Michael Grant, I’m adding all his past and future works to my tbr!!

Aaru beat my expectations

Have you heard of this book? I hadn’t until the author contacted me and asked if I would review the book. I read the synopsis (click here to visit the Goodreads page) and thought that it sounded like a really interesting concept, so I said yes. It’s a dystopian book, about the possibility of storing the consciousness of an individual (whether alive or dead, as long as they had their data collected before their death) in a utopian world. Our main two characters are sisters, with one who has leukemia and is likely to pass away soon and the other is her younger sister and agrees to be the face of this new company in return for her sister being “saved” within this system.

I will say, that the beginning third of this book wasn’t great. The concept was still interesting but the writing wasn’t good enough to carry the story and I was feeling disappointed. However, I’m really glad I carried on with the book as the end two-thirds of the book are done so well and I was fully absorbed. The writing improves vastly and I was so invested in the events, that when I finished the story I knew I needed to read Halls of Hel! (The second book, click here to see it on Goodreads)

I still maintain that the beginning of this book could be improved, there’s a lot of information in there that is essential to the rest of the book so the content is important. However, the writing could be more engaging and I worry that others may be put off and not reach the more intriguing sections.

Overall, I think you should give this book a shot and be prepared to not fully click with the first section. Just be aware that it gets so, so interesting (and you could be the opposite of me and adore the whole thing) so give it a shot! I’m happy to add this to my collection!

Have you heard of and/or read this book? I’d be interested to know how many people know of this already!

The Universe Versus Alex Woods

I’m going to be honest, I picked this book up purely for the cover. The synopsis was okay but nothing massively intriguing to me at the time, but this cover! I saw this book, and another one by Gavin Extence called The Empathy Problem, in a secondhand bookshop and my friend bought them both for me. I literally couldn’t leave them behind because they were both so beautiful! I have yet to read The Empathy Problem but I’m really looking forward to it now!

So, beautiful cover aside, what is the book actually about? We follow a young boy, Alex Wood, who was hit on the head by a meteorite as a child and is being raised by an eccentric fortune-telling mother. He meets an old man, Mr. Peterson, and they become an unlikely duo and come to care for each other. When Mr. Peterson has an unusual predicament, Alex helps him out and this results in them driving to Europe… If you want to know more you’ll have to read the book! As I think anything else spoils the essence of the plot.

The thing about this book is that the plot isn’t necessarily the main driving force. It’s an interesting and intriguing storyline, however, the main focus of the book is really Alex and his interactions and relationships. The writing is so beautiful, and slips easily into the mind and sticks there, making you think.

This book is so beautiful and one that I wish I heard more people talking about, an amazing coming of age novel which tackles so many different issues and I look forward to re-reading it in the future, along with other novels from Gavin Extence. 100% 5/5*****

The Girl with all the Gifts – a review

I had seen this book floating around for a few years and really wanted to read it, so when I decided I was going to take a break from the Thursday Next audiobooks (by Jasper Fforde), I elected to get this on audiobook and give it a go. I am so glad that I did because I absolutely loved it! 4 out of 5*!!!

We follow Melanie, a young girl who is strapped to a chair each morning and wheeled into a classroom to learn along with many other children also strapped into chairs. Her favourite teacher is Miss Justineau, and she waits excitedly for every lesson with her, not caring about the other teachers on rotation. I don’t want to say too much more, as this is pretty much all I knew going into it and I absolutely loved finding out everything as and when it happened. Things change massively as this book progresses, Melanie really matures and I loved listening to all the different characters and their points of view, as there are chapters from all the different characters. Learning about this world and what has happened to it is incredibly engrossing and I can’t wait to delve into the second book in the series, which if I’m remembering correctly is not a direct sequel but just set in the same dystopian world.

If this is a book which has piqued your interest I really recommend picking it up, I was engrossed despite reading it over a month span via audiobook and absolutely loved the world. I’m really looking forward to reading The Boy on the Bridge eventually, although I don’t currently know whether I’ll listen to it or read a physical copy.

Queendom of the Seven Lakes

This was one of my first requests when I originally signed up to NetGalley and it has been pushed to the bottom of the pile for a while, which is a great pity as I absolutely loved it! Before I go any further I’d like to thank NetGalley for the eARC of this book.

This story follows Elen-ai as she is enlisted, as an assassin, to guard the Queen’s son. In this world, only women may rule the Queendom as it allows for any familial lineage to be unknown and therefore leaves the seven families of the Queendom at the same level, with no rise in power coming from having a child with the monarch. Elen-ai must protect Gidyon, as the Queen has decreed her son will be the first ever Prince of the Queendom. Obviously, this makes all the families lose their footing and scramble to get one up over everyone including the Queen herself.

I wasn’t too sure how this story was going to develop, would there be a cheesy romance? Would the plot be stereotypical and obvious? The answer is HELL NO! This fantasy read did everything in such good proportions, with the relationship between our protagonist and her charge developing in a way which felt very natural and realistic and makes you root for their side intrinsically. Although there is much about the world that I feel I do not know, I knew what I needed to in order to comprehend the events in the book and I am sure that the sequel (yes there is a sequel, I am so excited!) will explain further about the world and develop this fantasy read even more.

I am very glad I picked this up and was able to read it and I 100% recommend that you at least read the synopsis to see if this is your sort of book, as I had believed I would be getting an averagely told fantasy with a mediocre plotline (because I am apparently an idiot/have been let down by a lot of books lately) and instead I am now finding myself with a new favourite world that I can’t wait to return to! Definitely, need to get to King of the Seven Lakes when I can!!