Caraval

Author: Stephanie GarberCaraval_final cover (1).jpg

Pages: 407

Genre: Fantasy, magic, YA, romance

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.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27883214-caraval


Thoughts:

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

Valuable advice to not just the characters. The story of Caraval sweeps you up quickly, and doesn’t let go easily. While I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t until after I’d finished, that I started to see all the faults. The intense plot distracts you from the rest of the book, it seems.

So. I’m not exactly sure what to think of this book. I like it, but then I go through it again in my head, and it’s back in a negative light. But, I definitely enjoyed it while I was reading it. It was a very fun experience. I want to make that clear. (Also, look how pretty the cover is??! That was what piqued my interest in the first place)

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

When I look back on it, and go through plot, characters, setting, it all seems to go pear-shaped. Firstly, plot… (Let’s get the negative bit over with) It seemed like a good idea at the beginning. It sounded very promising, up until the crazy twists and turn. By the end of the book, I actually didn’t know what was going on. Details kept being changed, and more things added in, until the villain was no longer the villain at all. It was a bit hard to keep up with. After I’d finished, I did manage to sort out what was happening, but was still left wanting more. Luckily, there is a second book! Even after this little complaint, I still want the next one. Surely that must mean something.

“No one is truly honest,” Nigel answered. “Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

Ok next: characters. The facts; interesting on the outside, very little development (except for one). Again, it’s like a thin layer of good book on the outside, but when go deeper, you discover it’s actually not that good of a quality book. The main character, Scarlett, started out as likeable, if a bit on the cautious side, but that’s not a bad thing. (I can be pretty cautious sometimes too) But once the male character was introduced, the interesting, well-told story-line, kept getting interrupted by the old fairy-tale belief that she needs to be saved by him.

Blah, blah, blah.

Come on Scarlett, you can do better than this!! (I don’t know if you can tell, but I really enjoy books with strong female leads…) By the end, once everything was twisted around, she started to become a little better, but her sister, on the other hand, was interesting all the way through. Tella had her own beliefs and plans, and didn’t wait for permission to implement them. While this became annoying in some ways, we do need some complications other than the climax. So characters were a mixture of interesting, well-thought-out, confusing, and annoying. There’s just so much happening in this book!

It’s almost as if Garber has tried a little too hard, and added in too many aspects, and that makes the writing messy. For example, it was a confusing concept to begin with, and then magic is involved, and then double-sided characters, and then on top of that, Scarlett has this random ability to sense feelings in colours. It’s so random. This little talent is not introduced, or explained at all, it’s just there, and pops up in random points in the story. I found that a little strange.

“Shades of the rich ruby love she’d felt during the game mixed with hues of deep-indigo hurt, turning everything just a little bit violet.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

All, in all, I’d say it’s the perfect young adult book, designed to keep people reading. A great setting, what started out as great characters, and an enjoyable read, until you start filing through it in your head. I think, by my rating policy, I’m going to give it 4 stars. The writing structure could definitely have been better, but I would certainly still recommend to people. If you have read it, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them all below in the comments. 🙂

Rating: star_rating_4_of_5

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

Author: Leigh Bardugo crooked-kingdom

Pages: 536

Genre: young adult, adventure, fantasy

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.


Thoughts:  Well, well, where to start? Again, another masterpiece from Leigh Bardugo, with a little bit of everything I love, all in one book. I don’t know if it’s better than Six of Crows. I can’t decide. Pretty sure that I liked the story behind the first book better than this one, as Crooked Kingdom was a little more focussed on the characters. But then I absolutely loved reading about the characters, so really can’t make up my mind on that one.

Okay, so as I mentioned before, Crooked Kingdom is a bit more about the characters than the first book. Each chapter is from a different character’s perspective again, and I really love seeing the story from different views. And then this caused me to fall in love with them all over again. I have no idea how people who read Six of Crows before this one came out coped, because I was just about ready to burst, and I only waited a day. It’s just one of those novels where you love everyone, and can’t wait to read more about them.

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”
― Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom

This book seriously kept me on the edge of my seat the entire way through. I don’t think there is actually a dull moment during this entire series, which is just wonderful. Action scenes, planning scenes (which could be just as exciting as the action scenes, somehow), revenge being taken, character development, and then the twists and turns as well. The plot just seemed to build up as the book went further along. Six of Crows ends on a sort of cliff-hanger, and then, I thought Crooked Kingdom was just fixing this complication. But no. This particular problem was resolved in just about the first quarter of the book, leaving the rest for some more amazing writing.

“Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?”
“So?” said Kaz.
“Well, usually it’s just half the city.”
― Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom

Of course, it’s again full of the hilarious banter between everyone, and so much sarcasm!! I loved every minute of it. It’s just so fun and you really feel like you’re in the book with everyone. When this happens, I say it’s a good book, because the author has obviously created a world that fits so well into my head that I can sort of live in it myself. One point to also touch on, is character development. For people who have read the book, you’ll know what I mean when I say it happened for Kaz and Inej, and Matthias as well. Even Wylan has progressed, and it’s nice to see so much of it happening in just the two books. For people who haven’t read it, these are the lovely people you will meet on your Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom adventure. I’d be looking forward to it if I were you.

“Where do you think the money went?” he repeated.
“Guns?” asked Jesper.
“Ships?” queried Inej.
“Bombs?” suggested Wylan.
“Political bribes?” offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias. “This is where you tell us how awful we are,” she whispered.
He shrugged. “They all seem like practical choices.”
― Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom

I know it does seem like this review was basically me rambling on about how good this book was, but I don’t think I can pick out anything bad about it. It’s not a deep book with lots of talk of ethics and morals, or an emotional contemporary novel, but it’s not meant to be. While both of those styles could be considered a better quality of book, I’m not going to judge a young adult fantasy, series on those criteria. So, I’m pretty sure this series was basically perfect, and it is most definitely one of my favourites. I just wish there was another book (or ten) so I can hear from the characters again, see what they’re doing, how they’re feeling. Obviously, I have become slightly obsessed. Time to distract myself with another book…

Rating: 5-start

Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugosix-of-crows

Pages: 465

Genre: young adult, adventure, fantasy,

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.


Thoughts: I’ve wanted to read this book for so long, but when I finally got around to opening it to the first page, I did get a little afraid. There are so many good reviews and recommendations around this duology that I started to get swept up in its awesomeness before I’d even read it. And when I did start reading it, I finally started to wonder if it was that great… But I needn’t have worried!! It was amazing! I loved every second of it.

“Jesper knocking his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward. “Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”

Brekker’s lips quirked. “I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.”

“My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.”
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

So, I haven’t read a young adult fantasy series in a while, at least not an amazing one. I’ve been trying to read different types of genres, and have read a few contemporary types recently. But this duology has hooked me right back in again. As I said before – so good, and so addictive!!! I think I’d forgotten how well a story can hook me in, and force me to read it every second of every day, which is basically what I did. Forget about study and exams –pffft, let’s figure out how Kaz Brekker pulled off his impossible heist.

From just about the first page, I was in love with the characters, and this was one of the few books where I didn’t mind the multiple points of view. I found every single character was exciting and interesting, and couldn’t wait for the next chapter of theirs once it was over. Leigh Bardugo described each of them so well, and gave them each a little unique metaphorical trait, and so she could introduce them without even having to say their name. The world she created was just so real that I almost felt as if I went on the adventure with them. And it’s been a while since that’s happened to me, so I’m more than a little obsessed right now.

“Always hit where the mark isn’t looking”

“Who’s Mark?” asked Wylan.”
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

Then there’s the humour – buckets of it streaming from the pages. While most of the book had quite a scary, serious outlook (remember they are planning and initiating an impossible heist), the easy-going banter and chat from each of the characters was hilarious. I laughed and snorted at the ridiculous, or sarcastic jokes they made about each other, and with each other. Even now, scenes are replaying in my head, and I can remember most of what all of them say. It’s definitely as if I travelled with them, because it’s like I know them all personally.

“No Mourners.
No Funerals.”
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

One thing I did note while reading was how the author backfilled in for the characters when we weren’t expecting it, and transitioned between the now and the past so smoothly that a lot of the time it wasn’t until I was right in the middle that I noticed. We are left quite in the dark at the beginning of the book, and it’s written so we can understand what’s happening, but are still curious why certain things are happening. For example, the group’s leader, Kaz Brekker, always wears gloves, and never takes them off until he is alone. This was one of the many mysteries that were revealed as the book went on, in the backfilling. Leigh Bardugo has found parts in her story, and matched up parallels of a point in that character’s past, and then has made the connection there, meaning it flows smoothly. And after a while, I began to realise she did this almost every chapter. And by the end of the book, we knew a whole lot more about each of the crew, sometimes without even remembering that we’d learnt it.

To finish, I’m just going to say that if you want to find yourself a good, fast-paced read, then this is most definitely the series for you. I feel sorry for the people who read Six of Crows before Crooked Kingdom was released, because I needed that next book when I finished. After finishing Crooked Kingdom as well now, while it resolved and everything, I find myself wishing for another one, just so I can hear from the characters again. *Sigh* Oh well, I’ll just have to find another book. Shouldn’t be too hard…

Rating: star_rating_4-5_of_5

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1)

Author: Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time

Pages: 211

Genre: fiction, sci-fi, children, classic, fantasy, young adult

It was a dark and stormy night;

Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. 

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?


Thoughts: Ever since I read this book years and years ago, I remembered it as one of my favourites, until the other day, when I realised that I couldn’t actually remember why I loved it. I’d forgotten everything about it, except that I had enjoyed reading it. So, after I finished my last book, I straight away picked this one up, and finished it overnight. And, it is just as good as I remember. The strange storyline, and the peculiar, though lovable characters soon all came back to me, and I can still say that A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favourite classic books.

“It was a dark and stormy night.”
― Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time

I actually love the fact that the first line is the often mocked, “It was a dark and stormy night” phrase. This was not the first novel to use the line, that award goes to Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 book, Paul Clifford. But, it does not diminish the quality of book at all. In any case, I’d say it enhances it, because as you read that first line, and then the first page, and amazing writing really hits you with impact. The first paragraph features such wonderful descriptions, that I had to read it out loud a couple of times, to myself and members of my family. It’s just amazing.  And then the story starts.

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. – Mrs. Whatsit”
― Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time

The plot is a very well thought out plot, and you would have to really know what you’re talking about to be able to write it. It’s not a usual fantasy novel, that if you’re creative enough, you can write; it involves quite a bit of science, and of course travelling in time (that is what creates a sci-fi novel), and it’s all mixed together marvellously to create an interesting plot. You would have no idea how it would resolve after reading the first half of the story. It keeps you hidden in the dark all the way through, until the end, which I think is a part of being a well-written novel. If it’s too predictable, then what’s the point in reading it?

“A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”
― Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time: With Related Readings

I also absolutely adore the characters in A Wrinkle in Time. First off, it features a female lead, which I always enjoy. And it’s not as though Meg (the lead) didn’t have faults; she had quite a few, but there was soooooo much development for her, and this strengthens her even more. I also loved Charles Wallace, Meg’s younger brother, and the voice and input he gave the story. And then who couldn’t love the three Mrs W’s. Mrs Whatsit, the loveable and kind, brings these values to the book. Mrs Who, who was a little stranger, I also liked. She speaks mainly in quotes, which I grew to like from her, and then there was the even stranger Mrs Which. She is the more philosophical guardian of Meg and her brother. I feel like all the characters involved all had a purpose in the book. They weren’t just for show, or were meaningless. They were all there for a reason, so there was no rambling on about things we didn’t need to know. This also means that I loved all of them, because there isn’t too many of them.

“Have you ever tried to get to your feet with a sprained dignity?”
― Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time

In general, I think everyone should have the chance to read A Wrinkle in Time. It’s written well, it has amazing descriptions, is fast-paced if you don’t like slow books, and it has a lovely feel to it. It is written so children can read it, so older people could find it a little young, or not for them, but I loved it. It’s also only the first book in the Time Quintet, which I did not realise until about three days ago, so I must get around to reading the other four. I don’t think you need to though, as it does finish alright. There is a bit of a cliff-hanger, but I think the complication of this book is resolved nicely.

Rating: 5-start

Fool’s Assassin

Author: Robin Hobb fools assassin.jpg

Pages: 688

Genre: Epic fantasy, fiction, magic, adventure

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19288321-fool-s-assassin


Thoughts: I’ve had this book waiting on my shelf for ages now, and finally decided to try it this week. Having not read any Robin Hobb before, (I probably should have, seeing as this is like the 4th series in the collection, but did I know that when I started? Nope) Anyway, it was a vast world that had been created, and I really look forward to reading more in the series, and the rest of the Realms of the Elderings.

“That, I think, is the shock of any relationship ending. It is realizing that what is still an ongoing relationship to someone is, for the other person, something finished and done with.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

When I began, I will admit, it was difficult to really get into the story. I think maybe it would have made more sense if I had read the books before it, but to me, it was just a jumble of names, and their relationships with other names. Especially the prologue. I was so confused as to what was going on, but, having read other giant fantasy series before, like Lord of the Rings and Eragon, I knew this was a sign of an intricate world that I would get to know. And get to know it, I did. After the first few chapters, I was getting really into it, and found it hard to put down.

“I will always take your part, Bee. Right or wrong. That is why you must always take care to be right, lest you make your father a fool.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

I did find that I was sort of just reading, and absorbing the words, and nothing was actually happening, but weirdly, I still felt compelled to read it. Really, most of Fool’s Assassin is just a recount of Fitz, Molly, and their household’s life. And with any other book, wouldn’t this be really boring? I don’t know whether their lives were just exciting, or it was a clever way of slowly building tension, up until about the last 3 chapters. And then everything happens. I found myself hunched over trying to read faster than I actually could, cramming the last pages in as I found out what happens finally. And then it finished. Aaaand I don’t have the next book!! Note to self: Do not start an exciting series, when you only have the one book. Not a good idea. Until I get the next one, I’ll just have to distract myself with some others.

“Time is an unkind teacher, delivering lessons that we learn far too late for them to be useful. Years after I could have benefited from them, the insights come to me.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

But, as I was saying, it is not a usual story structure, I can’t actually pick the part where the tension starts, and then where the climax is, or whether it really ends at all. It’s sort of all one big complication.

“You’ll do well, if you don’t mire in self-pity. Self-pity only gets you more of the same. Don’t waste time on it.”
― Robin HobbFool’s Assassin

Before I give too much away now, let’s talk about something else. The language used was really clever, for example when Fitz talks about his ‘cub’. Before this book begins, Fitz is part of an inseparable group of friends, one of them being his Wolf, Nighteyes. Nighteyes is long dead in this book, but his spirit still comes through in Fitz when someone needs protecting, and his mannerisms become more wolf-ish. I really enjoyed this aspect.

I didn’t particularly like how many times he stuffs up, and had a few face-palm moments on Fitz’s behalf. After the first couple, I got the sense that in some parts of his life (sorry if I’m being a little vague, I’m trying not to spoil it) Fitz was uncomfortable, and of course makes a few mistakes. And then he keeps doing it, and it seemed to take up a large portion of the story, and got a bit repetitive.

For now, I just need the next book so I can find out what happens. Beware, cliffhanger ending!!

Why you should read it: Because it’s the start of what I think is going to be an epic fantasy series, and is also written well, so you can enjoy it. It’s not as slow moving as Lord of the Rings, and also more relatable characters.

Rating: star_rating_4-5_of_5

Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1)

Author: Gena Showalteralice in zombieland.jpg

Pages: 404

Genre: Young Adult, Zombie, horror, fantasy, paranormal

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

If anyone had told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11300302-alice-in-zombieland


Thoughts: So, first review for the year, and I’m starting off with zombies. I’ve never actually been a fan of zombie stories, but was persuaded to try this one, and did enjoy it. I think it’s because the story is about more than just zombies. When I first started it, it did take a little time for me to really get into it, but once Ali (Alice) met the rest of the main characters, I literally could not put it down. Most books, it takes me a few minutes to kind of ‘submerge’ myself back into the story, and then people have to yell to get my attention. For Alice in Zombieland the minute I picked it back up, I was back in La-La-Zombieland.

“I looked around, counting the competition. Sixteen. To win, all I had to do was incapacitate each one, place my hand over their hearts and turn my palm into a flame. Easy.
Yeah right.”
― Gena ShowalterAlice in Zombieland

The two things that really stick out to me after reading it, are both the characters and their sarcasm, and the fast paced storyline. It’s written in Ali’s point of view, and she is forever making snarky little comments about everything (and everyone) around her. Then there’s Kat, who would have to be my favourite character by far, just because of her dialogue. It’s hilarious!! Also, the adults and how they interact with the main group of teens, (especially Ali’s grandparents) are funny as well.

“I’m not trying to—What do teenagers say nowadays?” he asked my grandmother. “Get all up in her biznez,” Nana said. Without cracking a smile. “That’s right,” he replied. “We’re not trying to get all up in your biznez, Ali.”
― Gena ShowalterAlice in Zombieland

On to storyline, and like I said before, there is not a boring moment, apart from the first few chapters at the start. And while this was exciting, and made it a great book for me to read at the time, now that I think about it, there is almost too much going on. Which, I guess, is good for people looking for a fast, young adult story, which I was at the time, but if you aren’t, then it might seem a little silly to you. The characters a little too unrealistic, and their little zombie-killing organisation a bit unconvincing.

And one last thing that confused and frustrated me, was the title. Yes, the main character’s name is Alice, but does she meet interesting people and go on an adventure through a mystical land…? Nope, not at all.

But, let’s not get too negative, because it was a good book, with some very nice aspects as well. There is more in the series, so I’ll read them as soon as possible, and who knows, maybe the Alice in Wonderland theme will make more sense.

Why should you read it: So, it’s not my favourite book, but I did enjoy reading it, and if you enjoy the usual young adult genre, then you’ll like it too. It’s not a deep book, but nice for just some fun, light reading. Just keep in mind, it’s not got anything really, to do with Alice in Wonderland.

Rating:star_rating_3_of_5

Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs

LibraryOfSouls_final_300dpi.jpgAuthor: Ransom Riggs

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, photography, Sci-fi, Historical fiction

Thoughts: Amazing, amazing, amazing! That’s what I thought of not just this book, but its entire series. I thought this was the perfect finish to this series, it tied everything up and was just super amazing. Library of Souls picked up right where the last book left off, which I really like about this series. It’s not like it skips a bit and then restarts – it could literally be the next chapter of the last book.

“It had become one of the defining truths of my life that, no matter how I tried to keep them flattened, two-dimensional, jailed in paper and ink, there would always be stories that refused to stay bound inside books. It was never just a story.”
― Ransom RiggsLibrary of Souls

This book definitely had a new and different feel about it than the other two. Not as eerie, I don’t think, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I did like the creepiness of the last two books, and it may just be me getting used to all the information.

So, plot lines… I’ll just say, it starts with a bang. Still following our main character, Jacob learns more about his peculiarity, and we learn more about him. After this passes, it is still action packed. Something new and exciting happens basically every page. And now, for the climax. It had me on the edge of my seat, it was so nail-biting. Some twists and turns happen, a few new found friends, and some betrayals as well, all mix together to create one big ending for this series. It kept me reading, as I thought it was all resolved, and then something went wrong, and then they fixed that, and something went REALLY wrong, and then somehow, all the loose ends were tied up. I also really liked the ending of the book. A nice finish to this series

“An opportunist disguised as a friend can be every bit as dangerous as an outright enemy.”
― Ransom RiggsLibrary of Souls

Another reoccurring setting in the series is Victorian England, which I always find interesting to read about – and this time it was the slums (Devil’s Acre). The descriptions Riggs give are amazing, painting the picture right into my head. A lot of new information was included in this book, which was nice to learn. We discover more about the time loops, including the infamous ‘panloopticon’. It was a nice touch, using the original idea of a panopticon, (A building, where all residents can be observed by a single person, without them knowing they are being watched)

“There was, in fact, a street sign to that effect—the first I’d seen in all of Devil’s Acre. Louche Lane, it read in fancy handwritten script. Piracy discouraged.
“Discouraged?” I said. “Then what’s murder? Frowned upon?”
“I believe murder is ‘tolerated with reservations.’ ”

― Ransom RiggsLibrary of Souls

One significant factor I did miss in this novel was the original set of peculiar characters. I loved all their relationships, and it’s nice when all is resolved. Also, for a lot of the last two books, Miss Peregrine herself has not been present, which I find a little annoying just because I like her so much. I believe she may be my favourite character (she’s just so quirky and intense, and just altogether awesome!!) We did meet a few more characters, including some more peculiars, and the new ‘bad guys’. A certain boatman named Charon was a nice little touch, using a bit of Greek Mythology, which is one of my favourite things to read about.

And last thing, the photos. I think the entire series has used them very effectively, especially the first book, but this book was definitely not a let down. I like the ones depicting peculiar children the most. Basically, I think this should be the next ‘big’ series – it’s that good. I loved the characters, the setting, and the genre. It was a fantasy book mixed with a bit of sci-fi – my favourite! It also ended well. Everything was resolved perfectly and it was the perfect ending for a perfect series.

Why you should read it: I think I’ve already mentioned everything there is to love about this book. Basically, if you’re a fantasy reader, enjoy sci-fi, or are just looking for a relatively short young adult series, this should be the thing you pick up.

Rating:    star_rating_4-5_of_5

Hollow City – Ransom Riggs

Title: Hollow City

hollow_city_novel_coverAuthor: Ransom Riggs

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, photography, Sci-fi, Historical fiction

Thoughts: Just wow… This series just keeps continuing to impress me. The intricate plot line, and character developments, mixed in with vintage photographs, and the overall creepy feeling to this book and its series… I literally could not put this down.

“This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.”  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23164983-hollow-city

Still following our main character, Jacob Portman, he and his newly found peculiar friends have to travel to London to help their beloved guardian, Miss Peregrine. Hollow City quite literally starts where the first book left off. It was a very engaging story, and every chapter, I would get to the end, meaning to put it down, and then something else exciting would happen, reeling me back in.

“Strange, I thought, how you can be living your dreams and your nightmares at the very same time.”
― Ransom RiggsHollow City

The storyline, while it can be confusing in parts, is very imaginative. The descriptions of the monstrous Hollowgast were amazing, and I particularly liked this book because of the setting – London. Having been there myself, I could easily picture the landmarks and streets as they passed them, like St Paul’s cathedral, meaning I got a much better feeling of where the Peculiars were. And then to the actual characters themselves. I feel like they’ve all grown so much since the first novel, and I could actually notice the change in them. I began to forget that it had only been like a week since Jacob met them all, and that this novel only took place in the midst of 48 hours. It was crazy. So many things have happened.

For anyone worried about spookiness or creepiness in this series, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up. While the pictures add to the overall eerie plot, it was just the right amount of scary for me. Not enough to give me nightmares or anything, but definitely something where I was on the edge of my seat. And again, the vintage looking photos Ransom Riggs has used so effectively, brings this story to life. While there were a few sad ones near the beginning that were a bit hard to look at, they most definitely helped get across the message that he wanted to convey with them, and I really, really love the way that he weaves them into the story so smoothly that sometimes you don’t even notice there’s been a break in words, and suddenly you have the clearest image in your mind of what you’ve just read. I’ve never read any other books that use this method, and I really find it effective.

“Some truths are expressed best in the form of myth.”
― Ransom RiggsHollow City

And now for the big finish!! What a twist! I was fooled the entire way through the book, believing they would get some sort of resolution when… BOOM – twist ending. I did not see it coming at all. And it left me feeling excited for the next book, Library of Souls. Lucky I’ve already got it at home…

I think the only reason why this book could be any better than Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, is that little extra bit of action. This entire book is full to the brim with it, every chapter something new and exciting happening. While in the first book, there was the few introductory paragraphs, setting the scene and characters, and then a few chapters here and there, Hollow City was an explosive book, that kept me engaged the whole time.

“I liked this idea: that peculiarness wasn’t a deficiency, but an abundance; that it wasn’t we who lacked something normals had, but they who lacked peculiarness. That we were more, not less.”
― Ransom RiggsHollow City

Why should read it? Obviously, if you’ve read the first one, definitely go on reading the rest of the series… It’s good. And for anyone who is worried it isn’t their thing, or too creepy, don’t worry. I had the exact same thoughts as I picked the first book up for the first time, and am very, very glad I did. This is one of those books that, if it were known, would be the next big thing. 

Book in a word: Engaging

Rating: Star_rating_4.5_of_5.png

Queen of Shadows – Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass series)

Title: Queen of Shadows

Author: Sarah J Maasqueen of shadows

Genre: Fantasy, young adult fiction, Fae, magic, adventure

Thoughts: Okay, just letting people know, this review may contain spoilers for Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire. I’ll try and keep Queen of Shadows spoilers out.

Alright, onto the review. This book was pretty amazing. I mean, there were a few problems, but most of the book is pretty good. Let’s start with action. Queen of Shadows is full of it. Anyone who was put off Heir of Fire, because of its slower pace, you won’t be disappointed by this book. It literally doesn’t have a dull moment. A couple of times, I thought that it would, but then something always happened. It was a
lmost too much. There needed to be a little space between events. I understood that Chaol, Aelin and their group needed to finish off and prepare for what they were doing, but it was too fast, too much going on at once.

“She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.”
― Sarah J. MaasQueen of Shadows

Another thing, I’m not sure if it’s good or bad yet, is the complexity of the plot. If you didn’t pay attention that much while reading the three earlier books, then you will probably have trouble following what is going on. Also, you might want to read The Assassin’s Blade, the prequel book, as Queen of Shadows does mention quite a few events and punishments that happened in it. So basically, know the backstory and what has happened in the past for all the characters, and you’ll be good.

Now characters. [Spoilers] I love how Maas has created a whole new character for Aelin. Yes, she has a lot of similarities to Celaena, because they’re the same person, but she thinks differently, acts differently, and is a whole new person. There are parts in the book where Aelin needs to transform back into Celaena, and the cold assassin’s mask slides back into place. But then she comes back out of it, and once again, becomes Aelin Ashryver Galathynius. One thing I don’t like about this character, is that she is just too good. She’s good at everything. I think she needs to have something, like a weakness, to make her seem more believable. Also Manon and the Witches come into this book. Their part of Heir of Fire was a bit out of place, their storyline a bit random, and I found myself not liking it as much, but in Queen of Shadows, it fits right in and flows with the rest of the story.

“What a shame that the current owner of the Vaults, a former underling of Rourke Farran and a dealer of flesh and opiates, had accidentally run into her knives. Repeatedly.”
― Sarah J. MaasQueen of Shadows

The new characters, like Elide, Nesryn and Lysandra also fit in. I love all the female characters in this series, but I find myself liking Lysandra and Manon a lot more in this book than the others. And we can’t forget Dorian, Aedion, and Chaol. Dorian’s parts of this book are very short, one or two pages at most. This reflects wat is happening to him. [Spoilers] At the end of Heir of Fire, the King traps him inside the Valg Prince with the Wyrdstone collar. The short chapters that have Dorian in them reflect that Dorian’s consciousness is only there for short periods of time. It’s like Dorian himself is only there for some parts, fighting to get out, but the Valg always wins, and takes over him again. This is why, I think, Dorian’s chapters are so small. Aedion is also a very lovable character and very overprotective of Aelin. But I like this about him. It makes him seem more believable. The big bad warrior, becomes soft-hearted for Aelin only.

Now Chaol. The biggest thing wrong about this book is Chaol. It ruined him. It was like Maas completely forgot about his character build-up throughout the first 3 books, and made him into a completely new person. That everyone hates. Everything that happened between him and Celaena is forgotten, and all he thinks about is Dorian. Seriously. Just Dorian this and Dorian that. At first, I understood, with all that’s going on with the Prince, but after a while… Really annoying.

So, after ruining Chaol, and building up characters, and the plot, the ending was bound to be good. And it was!! Those last 100 pages were the best! Everything was written so well, and Chaol even became more likeable. And the ending. I though the ending was perfect. Ended on the perfect line, and resolved a lot of things. But that just makes me want the next one. And it will probably be published September next year. A whole other year to wait for the next book. That’s a very long time…

“Sometimes there won’t be a right choice, just the best of several bad options.”
― Sarah J. MaasQueen of Shadows

Why should you read it: Well, if you loved the rest of the series, then this will be action packed and great for you. Even if you were let down by Heir of Fire, as apparently many people are, then this book is still a pick-up. Any fantasy, young adult and assassin genre book readers, this is the perfect series for you

Book in a word: Action-packed

Rating: 8½/10

Uprooted – Naomi Novik

Title: Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novikuprooted

Genre: Fantasy, Young adult, fiction, magic

Thoughts: I first noticed this book and picked it up at Dymocks a couple of months ago, because of its very cool cover. It is brilliant. (The cover I saw is the picture on the right. I didn’t like the other as much) I then read the blurb, was a little intrigued, but had enough books in my ‘to-read’ pile that I left it on the shelf. After that, I soon looked it up, and read some reviews that made me want to read it even more. So when it was given to me, for my birthday (thanks Mum and Dad), I started reading straight away. And loved it! But, let me make this clear. If you have seen this book and read the blurb, and then put it back down, thinking it wasn’t that good, give it another chance. The blurb is rubbish, and doesn’t do anything for the book. It describes, and then tries (and fails) to leave a cliff-hanger about just the first chapter. So definitely pick it back up and read it.

“What an unequaled gift for disaster you have.”
― Naomi NovikUprooted

From reading the blurb, you are told there is a character called ‘The Dragon’. Now I was very confused at first, when I began to read, as ‘The Dragon’ was talking and walking around and living in a castle, and doing very human things. I then read the blurb, more carefully, and realised that ‘The Dragon’, is just the title for a wizard. This explains all the human things he did. This wizard also turned out to be my favourite character. I loved most of his characteristics, especially his non-caring attitude towards almost everything. I really liked reading the scenes with him in it, because I would try and figure out what was going on in his brain. Also Agnieszka is a good main character, although I didn’t like her as much as ‘The Dragon’. I think it may be that I didn’t agree with her about everything.

“The Dragon hissed under his breath with annoyance: how dare a chimaera inconvenience him, coming out of season.”
― Naomi NovikUprooted

The setting is in a fantasy world, where it’s not normal for every person to have magic, but where wizards and witches are familiar. The main antagonist is The Wood, a dark forest which is alive and infects anyone who comes into contact with it. There are a few scenes where we meet one of the infected, and some of them are quite descriptive and gruesome. In fact, most of the book is very descriptive. I also liked the idea of the enemy force being not a person but a living, breathing something. And how the something is in The Wood, which stretches its roots as far as it can go and has been taking over the Valley where the characters live. I thought that it was a bit different from the usual good guy-bad guy relationship.

This book looks and sounds like your average fantasy, magic story, but Uprooted adds more levels into it, and goes deeper. You get to know the characters really well. There is a part where the wood has infected someone Agnieszka knows, and it is showing her all the other person’s fears, grudges and secrets that they have held against her. And this hurts Agnieszka. Badly. But it shows us, the readers, more about her then you can by just describing her, on the outside.

I think one of the things that let it down, from being a ten out of ten, is the complicated plot-line. At the start, it’s good, maybe even too simple, but by then end of the book, I was very confused. It was just so hard to follow. There was one part that I had to keep rereading over and over, because I didn’t get the point. If maybe there was a simpler ending then I would have enjoyed it more. The last chapter was very good though, I must say. I loved how Naomi portrayed The Dragon in it…

Sorry for taking so long to post another review, I have had a very busy two weeks and haven’t had time to open a book at all. I hopefully should have a little more time now.

Why should you read it: If you like the fantasy genre, for example the Spiderwick Chronicles, or Seraphina, then this is for you. Also for readers of magic books. Really, everyone who enjoys reading should like this book.

Book in a word: Enchanting

Rating: 8/10