Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

*Warning this review contains spoilers for the first book in the series, Lady Midnight.*

Series: The Dark Artifices, #3

Publication: May 23rd 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Goodreads Description:
Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

My thoughts:
Lord of Shadows is everything a Cassandra Clare book we expected it to be and more! It is full of vivid characters, action packed plot and some romance and hits on some dark themes and let's be real it was heartbreaking.

I obviously love the plots of Cassie's books or I wouldn't have read all her books but to me it's her characters that really drive me to keep reading. They are all so vivid and we only scraped the surface of some of them in Lady Midnight. In Lord of Shadows we really get to know some of the other characters at a much deeper level such as Kit, Ty, Livvy, Dru and Diana. I loved Emma, Jules, Ty and Cristina in LM but now I love almost everyone! Kit is definitely a character that stands out in Lord of Shadows. The sass levels are real with this boy! He is hilarious, I lived for Kit's narration.

There are a few friendships that play a big role in Lord of Shadows which I liked. Romantic relationships are fun to read and ship but the relationships I live most are friendships and family so having new friendships develop was one of my favourite parts of the story. Livvy, Ty and Kit mesh so nicely together; I loved reading any scene with the three of them. I also liked how Emma and Mark's friendship was explored. I think it would have been easy for Cassie to go down the love triangle route and I'm so glad she didn't. Their friendship reads as very genuine.

It's a Cassandra Clare book so of course there is a lot of romantic relationships drama, but to be honest it was not as much as I anticipated. I loved how mature the characters were in dealing with the situations they were in. They came off as real people and not bratty annoying 15yr olds like some other YA books.

I loved the plot. We follow a few POVs in Lord of Shadows so it's actually like a few different storylines that all wove together! I loved how we got to spend more time with some characters who we didn't see a lot of in LM. All the different stories made the story fly by; especially when a chapter ended on a cliffhanger and hanged POVs. I couldn't stop reading. 

Because there is so many POVs Lord of Shadows is set in a variety of places such as London, Cornwall, Faerie and Idris. TID fans will be over the moon as we get to spend a good chunk of time in the London institute! In LM we just stay in LA so it was fun seeing the characters interacting with new environments.

Clave politics comes to the forefront in Lord of Shadows- there is a big emphasis on how corrupt it is which we already knew but I think it's a lot more relevant to our characters in Lord of Shadows because they are interacting with some of these corrupt people. Some of the stuff going on in the story is kinda reflective of stuff going on in the real world and I liked how it kind of reminded me of the affects of world war 1.

There is no lack of diversity in the Shadowhunter Chronicles but Cassie stepped it up another notch in Lord of Shadows by introducing our first transgender Shadowhunter! I think it was dealt with very well and people will be happy with the representation.

Another note on diversity: Cassie has said that Ty has autism on multiple occasions but it was never explicitly said in the books, the characters merely said he was just 'special' or 'different' of 'just Ty'; but in Lord of Shadows the term 'autistic' is used. While labels aren't everything I think it is important to acknowledge them and this highlights to readers who weren't aware that Ty has autism.

I have to commend Cassie for all the risks she took in Lord of Shadows. She went in certain directions a lot of authors would shy away from and to be honest I didn't think she'd have the guts to do what she did in Lord of Shadows but she did. And it terrifies me that she has no problems being brutal to her main characters because it really means no one is safe!

There are a few cameos from The Mortal Instruments characters and a few nods towards Cassie's other series The Infernal Devices and her upcoming series The Last Hours which fans will love. I know I got excited any time a TID name popped up! 

The ending was one of Cassie's best yet. I was complete thrown off guard and thoroughly distraught. I just wanted to remind readers that the next book in TDA isn't out until 2019 so if you are not one for cliff hangers probably wait until closer the time Queen of Air and Darkness is released.

Overall I absolutely loved Lord of Shadows but who's surprised? I had so much fun easing and am eagerly anticipating the third and final book in the series!

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thanks for reading,

A :)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

*This post contains spoilers for the first book in the series, Passenger.*
My review of book 1 Passenger: Here!

Series: Passenger, #2

Publication:January 3rd 2017 by Disney-Hyperion

Goodreads Description:
All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

My Thoughts:
Wayfarer is an enjoyable read and I would recommend it if you have started the series. I would highly recommend rereading Passenger or read a summary before you read Wayfarer! I had forgotten so many details and was so grateful I took the time to read the summary because Wayfarer jumps right into the action and there isn't much recapping.

The plot was okay but there was slow parts and I did have to push myself to read them but it does pick up again. I think the book was way too long for what happened in in. It was also a bit frustrating how long it took for storylines to intersect and I think had the characters crossed paths earlier it would have made the story more engaging and fun to read. 

Etta and Nicholas' romance is not the focus of Wayfarer which I was so grateful for (I wasn't a fan of it in book 1) because it meant we could spend more time adventuring and focusing on the task at hand instead of being sidetracked with all the relationship drama that usually occurs in 2nd books in a series.

We get a lot more of Sophia and Julian in Wayfarer which I was not expecting! I really liked getting to know them and their development was paced really well. Sophia plays a much bigger role in Wayfarer and I loved it. She is so blunt and her determination is admirable. I love how she done't let anyone tell her what she can can't do. Julian is a bit annoying but his character arc was done really well and he matures slowly over the course of the story.

Little side note: Bracken really explored racism in book 1 and she stepped it up and made the story even more diverse in terms of race and sexuality in book 2 and handled these issues really well. 

The ending was really satisfying but I could see how Bracken could write more in this world and if it followed certain characters I definitely think I would pick them up!

My Rating: 4
Thanks for reading,
A :)

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

*Warning this post contains spoilers for the first two books in the series, A Court of Thorns and Rose and A Court of Mist and Fury*

Read my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses:here!
Read my review of A Court of Mist and Fury: here!
(Bear in mind the above reviews were written at the time when i first read the books and are a bit outdated in terms of my feeling towards the story)

Series: A Court of Thorn and Roses

Publication:May 2nd 2017 by Bloomsbury Childrens Books

Goodreads Description:

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

My thoughts:

I loved ACOWAR, I had so much fun reading but ACOMAF is definitely my favourite in the series.

I thought it wasn't possible for Feyre to grow anymore after ACOMAF but I was wrong. Feyre's development in ACOWAR was perfectly paced might not be as visible as her journey in ACOMAF but i loved it all the same. She has an amazing arc and it is hard to imagine her as the girl she was in the beginning of ACOTAR. In ACOWAR we really get to see her struggle with balancing being High Lady and friend/family to those around her and coming to terms with some of the decisions that are on her shoulders as High Lady. I love she was never portrayed as anything less than Rhys and they acted as a team in their High Lady and High Lord duties.

I really liked how much page time all the other characters got. We really got to know the Inner Circle even more than we did in ACOMAF. Firstly, I love Rhys like most people but be warned he goes down the self sacrificing and blaming himself for everything route in AOCWAR and it got annoying at times and I was frustrated at him. I loved how much of Azriel we get. He quickly became one of my favourite characters. He has a lot more page time in AOCWAR compared to ACOMAF- I think his and Feyre's friendship is developed really well in this one. I loved Cassian in ACOMAF but not I am obsessed with him. He has so much great scenes in ACOWAR. I feel like Rhys, Cassian and Az's friendship really shines in this book.

There is lots of discussion going around the fandom regarding Mor- it is spoilery so I won't say what it is about but I will say I enjoyed her character and some of her badass scenes were my favourite to read but I have a few problem regarding her actions as they felt out of character sometimes. (If you've read the book you probably know what I'm talking about- if you want to discuss go on tumblr; there is loads of discussion going on over there!).

The Archeron sisters- I love Feyre and I will always love her but Nesta. Oh my god do I have so much respect and admiration for her. I connected so well to her and love her to pieces. She is one of my all time favourite characters. She really shined in this book! I liked getting to know Elain a bit more but didn't connect to her as much as i did Nesta.

I found the plot to be a bit slow at first; like the first 100 pages were good but it's not until about half way when it gets amazing! There is lots of twists and turns and the battles!! Oh the battles we have all been waiting for! They do not disappoint! There was a handful of things I found predictable but I still had fun reading. I do think the plot suffered a bit because  of Feyre's first person narrative. I think there was so much missed opportunities for exciting scenes because Feyre is our only narrator .

There is a little bit of world development but not much; we are introduced to all the High Lords which was interesting and we do visit multiple new courts but I don't think there was much development as there was just a lot going on so there wasn't much time to be exploring these new places.

The lack of diversity in SJM books is a known thing in the book community and many people hate on her for it and while she is one of my favourite authors I do agree 100% that there is a lack of diversity in her books. I think she did listen to her readers and I do think she made an effort on this front in ACOWAR. She does clarify on skin colour- something she was extremely vague about in her previous books. And there is more diverse range of sexualities represented in the book- were they all accurate? I can't say. But the fact that she included them means she is trying and while it might take a while to get it right I am glad she is listening to feedback and using it to improve her writing. The character's from the other courts we are introduced to as racially and sexually diverse. One of the storylines didn't work for some readers (me included) but I've read reviews of others who were thrilled about it so I guess it's up to you but I felt like this characters sexuality was used a bit like a plot device and was only added in to please readers and it contradicted a lot of the characters previous actions. 

There is two lines which people have been interpreting as acephobic which I think are important to highlight. They aren't spoilery so no need to worry. Personally I only noticed the first and I interpreted the second as something different so I'll only mention that one which is: “perhaps any sort of physical passion had long ago been drained away, alongside their souls.” - I can see why people were angry about this and thought it was important to mention.

All in all it was a satisfying 'conclusion' but readers can tell that Maas also consciously sets up plot lines to be explored in the spin offs and introduces unresolved conflict to ensure that the series has somewhere to go. I really really enjoyed but didn't love it as much as ACOMAF.

My rating: 4 stars out of 5
Thanks for reading,
A :)

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

*Trigger warning for eating disorders and self harm*

Publication: March 19th 2009 by Viking Juvenile 

Goodreads Description:
"Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
"Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

My thoughts:
Wintergirls is a haunting, raw, disturbing and emotional read. It's probably one of the most intense books I've read in a really long time. And because of that I highly recommend it. (Trigger warning for eating disorders and self harm though, so maybe don't pick it up if your not into reading that or you're not in a healthy mind set).

I loved the writing style, I found it to be really unique. Sometimes I found myself stopping to reread sentences because they were so pretty. And I loved how the author used repetition to portray Lia's spiralling thoughts and such. Like at times there were full pages of the same sentence retreated again and again.

If anyone is wondering about the accurate representation of eating disorders in the book I just wanted to say that from my experience and my knowledge (I can't speak for everyone, everyone's experiences are different) I do think the author wrote a very accurate depiction of what it's like to suffer from and ED. The story really showed how fatal they can be, and really captured the rawness of them through Lia's narration. To be honest I couldn't believe that Wintergirls was not an own voices novel.

I really liked Lia. Some readers may find being in the head of someone struggling with an ED disturbing at times which I can understand but I loved how real it was and how I could relate to her. She'd have a thought and I'd think, I've had that though too- that could have been me going through what she is. 

Wintergirls had such a big impact on me that when I was finished I was speechless. I think the message of the book is so intense because of how realistic the main character is and the portrayal of EDs.

My only problems with Wintergirls lies with the side characters. I felt like some of them were very underdeveloped; I get that this is Lia's story but I would have liked to get to know her family a bit more.

If you are looking for a cute easy contemporary to read this isn't the book for you. Wintergirls is extremely dark and emotional and hard to read at times but is a gem in the world of YA contemporary, I highly recommend it!

My rating: 4.5 stars
Thanks for reading,

A :)