Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Series: Shattered Realms, #2

Publication: April 4th 2017 by HarperTeen

Goodreads Description:
A lifelong war.

Alyssa ana’Raisa is the reluctant princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne of Fells, a queendom embroiled in a seemingly endless war. Hardened by too many losses, Lyss is more comfortable striking with a sword than maneuvering at court. After a brush with death, she goes on the offensive, meaning to end the war that has raged her whole life. If her gamble doesn’t pay off, she could lose her queendom before she even ascends to the throne.

A life in peril.

Across enemy lines in Arden, young rising star Captain Halston Matelon has been fighting for his king since he was a lýtling. Lately, though, he finds himself sent on ever more dangerous assignments. Between the terrifying rumors of witches and wolfish warriors to the north and his cruel king at home, Hal is caught in an impossible game of life and death.

The shadow of defeat. 

My thoughts:
Shadowcaster is fantastic but unfortunately I didn't love it as much as book one, Flamecaster. I was a little bit disappointed because I had so much theories and hopes and expectations going in and the book went in a different direction because it focused on new characters instead of those in the first book. That being said I still really enjoyed it- it's Cinda Williams Chima so that's no surprise.

I loved how the whole time I was reading I was constantly coming up with theories. These books are known for how all the different narratives are woven together so well so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how certain characters were going to bump into each other. It was a lot of fun, even if I was wrong a lot of the time!

I personally felt like Shadowcaster was a filler book. Big things did happen but it felt like everything was being set up for the next instalment.

Shadowcaster focuses on new characters that are just mentioned in book 1 but were not fleshed out. Alyssa is one of these characters. She is one of the main characters in Shadowcaster and I loved every second she had some page time. She is so different from a lot of other YA protagonists. She's a badass princess who is general in an army! I wasn't the biggest fan of the male protagonist, Han. He was okay but not as much fun to read about. The chemistry between the two was off the charts though and I had fun reading their interactions. Their relationship was developed at a lovely pace and really fleshed out.

I was a bit disappointed that there was no POV from one of my favourite characters in the first book, I was just waiting and waiting for it and it never happened.

This world is already super developed because there is so many books already out but it looks like Chima is planning on expanding it even more with hints of new magic here and there throughout Shadowcaster and I am excited to see where it goes.

I found the ending to be a bit frustrating. I felt like all the storylines were finally coming together and then it cut off. It also ended on a cliff hanger so that's annoying too.

I am so excited for the next book because this one was kind of like a filler book were everything was set up for some major things to happen in the next one! It's one of my highly anticipated books for 2018!

My rating: 4

Thanks for reading,
A :)

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Publication:February 28th 2017 by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen

Goodreads Description:
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My thoughts:
The Hate U Give is such an important, powerful and impactful read and one that will stay with me for a long time. The hype around THUG has been crazy since it's release in April and I can say that it is defining worth the hype.

THUG was such an eye opener for me because stuff like what Starr goes through doesn't happen in Ireland but unfortunately horrific stuff like this does in other parts of the world and obviously I'm not ignorant I've seen stuff on the news and internet but reading it made it so much more real for me even though it's fiction. I don't think a reader can come out of this book without having their thoughts challenged or changed, numerous times I thought 'I've never thought of it that way before' or 'that makes sense, why have I never thought of that before?' etc.

THUG tackles lots of important issues that need to be talked about such as racism, aspects of white privileged that I had never even considered, discrimination, prejudice, police brutality and more. These topics are often shied away from by authors for fear of offending people and I'm so glad I've found a book like THUG that had got lots of conversation going about these issues.

The plot of THUG is quite slow as it is a contemporary and I do think it could have been condensed a bit, 500 pages felt very long to me. But despite it being long I was fully engaged the whole time and couldn't stop reading. It also got very intense and scary at times because I'd be reading and stop and think 'wait this happens in real life, maybe not where I live but this is some people's reality' and that's so scary to me. There was some scenes that were very tense and gripping and I was utterly captivated but also appalled by the stuff going on at the same time. 

I really liked Starr's character arc, in the beginning she's afraid to speak out but slowly learns what it means to have a voice and to use it. I am Irish as well as white so I have the privilege of not having to deal with stuff Starr has to deal with but reading about her experience gave me a new understanding of police brutality as well as racism in general. I couldn't relate to her too much but I loved watching her grow over the course of the story and seeing her struggle and overcome various things. She is super admirable and a role model for all readers.

I also loved how big a focus family was in the story. The family dynamic was so realistic. I loved how the siblings interacted with each other by teasing one another and being protective of each other. I also appreciated how big a role Starr's parents played and how much she talks about them and spends time with them.

I felt like the writing was average, it wasn't flowery or over the top it was just fine but there were some really good and empowering lines here and there. In the beginning I found it hard to get into because there is a lot of slang and lingo I am not used to reading but I did get over it and it wasn't a problem for long.  

I'm not going to lie, I did feel uncomfortable reading parts of The Hate U Give because so much of it was so different from my own life as a white Irish girl who has had very limited interactions with black people (theres one black girl in my primary school class and 2 in secondary school and now in college there is none in my course which has 450 students, I also live in a rural-ish place were there is a tiny percentage of black people). But feeling uncomfortable can be a good thing though, it has made me more aware of how I treat people. 

I learned so much from reading The Hate U Give. It is such an eye opening and thought provoking read. I would highly recommend it for everyone.

My rating: 4.5 stars
Thanks for reading,

A :)

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Spoiler free series review of Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Series: Starbound Trilogy

Book 1: These Broken Stars
Book 2: This Shattered World
Book 3: Their Fractured Light 

Goodreads Description of book 1:
Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth. 

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy. 

My thoughts: 
I've divided this review into 3 sections so you can avoid spoilers but regardless I will keep my thoughts as spoiler free as possible!

Book 1, These Broken Stars:
I enjoyed reading These Broken Stars but wasn't blown away by it. 

I couldn't stand the main character Lilac for the first half of the story. I found her so annoying. She couldn't do anything herself and had to rely on Tarver for everything. She did grow and develop but I felt like her helplessness was a bit over the top.  Like some things she couldnt/didn't do was common sense. I did grow to like her though when she stepped up to the plate. If you are frustrated with her like I was just push through- I promise she gets better 

It also took me a long time to really care about Tarver and Lilac's relationship. It's defining a slow burn relationships. They start out hating each other and slowly growing together.

I loved the survival aspect of the story and how big a part of the plot it was. I love reading about characters thrust into new environments fighting for their lives. There was defining some cliche scenes but I didn't mind them that much.

I was a bit confused at the end when everything started to get very scientific. This could have been because I was reading it in 10 page burst and probably didn't absorb all the explanations. I felt like the descriptions of what was happening was rushed and unclear. 

My rating: 3.5 stars; but it would have been a 4 if I had read it when I had time to read instead of in short bursts here and there.

Book 2, This Shattered World:
This Shattered World is an epic sequel, I enjoyed it so much more than These Broken Stars! If you weren't a huge fan of the first book I'd say give this one a go anyway. It's much better.

I had so much fun reading this book because I was not expecting to find Irish culture to be part of the world. It was great! I loved how they mentioned things like Molly Malone and Flynns group of rebels is called the Fianna and there was Irish scattered throughout it! And the grammar was right and it was called Irish not gaelic like it is in some books. The authors clearly did their research! I also loved how one of our famous Irish myths of Tir na nóg was included in passing but had a cool sci-fi twist! I hardly ever get to see my culture in the books I read so I was so excited that it was included.

I also had so much more fun reading this one because Jubilee is so much better to read than Lilac. Jubilee is a badass fighter who goes after what she wants. I loved reading her chapters. 

I also liked Flynn and Jubilee's relationship more than Lilac and Tarvers. I defining shooed the two and I loved how their story was kind of like a Romeo and Juliette type narrative. I liked how well their personalities complemented each other's.

While theses are companion novels I think that you do have to read These Broken Stars first, the characters from book 1 do pop up and play an important role towards the end of the novel. 

My Rating: 4 stars

Book 3, Their Fractured Light:
Their Fractured Light was probably my favourite book in the series. 

I loved how fast paced the story was. There was lots of action and tension spread out the whole novel with a nice mix of slower character driven moments.

I really liked Sofia. She's different from Lilac and Jubilee. She reminded me of a more confident version of Cress from Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles.

I loved reading about Sofia and Gideon's relationship. They both have a lot of trust issues so it was fun seeing their relationship develop. They weren't super cutesy but I loved them because I of how well they worked as a team. Their interactions were one of my favourite parts. 

The characters from the first two books join the story in the second half of Their Fractured Light so it is important to read the first two books. It was fun reading all their interactions because they are all such different personalities.

My Rating: 4 stars; I think it had the potential to be my favourite in the series and a 5 star read but wasn't because I was so busy while reading it that it took me ages.

Thanks for reading,

A :)

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

*Trigger warning for depression, suicide and sexual assault in this book*

Publication: December 27th 2016 by Razorbill (first published October 18th 2007)

Goodreads Description:
You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever. 

My thoughts:
I have mixed feelings about Thirteen Reasons Why. I liked it and flew through it but I also had a lot of problems with it. It is definitely a book that's is very different to what I usually read.

One of the things I liked was this message of how our actions can have a huge impact on someone's life without us realising and that we should be more aware of how we act. Something insignificant to us might be huge for someone else. This is a pretty obvious thing but not something I've come across being addressed in books and not something we think about a lot. I don't think the author went about portraying this idea by blaming characters actions for Hannah's death the right way but the messages did get across.

Another thing I liked was how captivated I was by the story. While I didn't care for the characters that much I couldn't stop reading. I had to know what pushed Hannah over the edge and how all the characters were connected to her and how Clay was somehow tangled into it too. I flew through it in a few sittings.

Depression and suicide are a huge part of the story and as someone who hasn't suffered from depression I can't say if it was an accurate representation or not. From reading other reviews it looks like some people are extremely pleased with the representation and say it's very accurate while others say the story glamorised mental illness so keep that in mind if you are thinking of picking the book up.

Obviously dealing with serious topics like suicided there is going to be problematic stuff tied to the story. The thing that stood out most to me was there was absolutely no mention how those suffering from a mental illness can get help. There was no discussion about positive mental health and suicide prevention which was disappointing considering how the topic of suicide is the backbone of the story. It was a shame the author didn't address it as it was the perfect story to say something on the matter.

I felt like the characterisation was weak. Because we are trying to get through all the tapes in such a quick amount of time we only get tiny glimpses of the people who Hannah is talking about. To be honest I can't even remember their names; none of them were developed at all. They were all very flat. 

I also had a problem with the main characters. I couldn't connect with Hannah or Clay at all. I felt like Hannah was a bit over the top and super judgemental, I had nothing in common with her. And Clay was just an average guy-nothing special about him to make me care.

That being said I was still engaged the whole time reading though. It's a compelling story for sure but has it's problems. I haven't seen the Netflix show and to be honest probably won't ever watch it. Overall the book was meh for me.

My rating: 3 stars
Thanks for reading,

A :)