Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

*Warning this post contains spoilers for the first book in the series, A Shadow Bright and Burning*
Series: Kingdom on Fire, #2

Publication:September 19th 2017 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Description:

The magicians want her to lead. The sorcerers want her to lie. The demons want her blood. Henrietta wants to save the one she loves. But will his dark magic be her undoing?

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.

So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favour, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

My Thoughts:
Loved this one, if you read A Shadow Bright and Burning and just thought it was okay give A Poison Dark and Drowning a go it is so much better! I loved book 2 so much, I had such an enjoyable time reading it!

Found it so much easier to fall into than book 1-Plot is so much stronger than book 1, it was addicting and interesting and I wanted to find out what was going to happen and was constantly theorising as I was reading. There was some great twists and action which I loved!

There was a good bit more added to the world but the world building was not as heavy as book 1, I really liked how some of my questions were answered and the descriptions of the monsters were great.

Henrietta was a bit annoying, I was fed up with her because she was lying- a lot. And I still didn't get why she loved Rook- he is so unappealing (the good thing was he didn't have much page time thank god). I was more excited about other characters such as Magnus and Blackwood who got some lovely character development over the course of the book.

There was also a new character introduced, Maria. I love Maria she is so badass and her and Henrietta's friendship was one of my favourite parts of the story. It was developed very slowly but I liked that and am excited to see where it goes in the next book.

The romance plot is such a mess in this book. Henrietta makes it so much more complicated than it needs to be and I was frustrated at her. I did love the friendship she forms with one of the boys though.

I had a lot of fun reading despite being annoyed at Henrietta and I need the next book! I am definitely going to read it around release I am so excited to see where this series goes in the final book!

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Series: Kingdom on Fire, #1

Publication:September 20th 2016 by Random House BFYR

Goodreads Description:

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

My thoughts:

I enjoyed A Shadow Bright and Burning a fair bit, it was a slower read but definitely an engaging one. The Victorian London setting gave off The Infernal Devices vibes so I was hooked pretty early on but what really got me was the world building and big cast of characters. 

The plot is pretty slow for the most part so it did take me a long time to read and it didn't help that I was finding it hard to concentrate because at the time when I read this I hadn't been able to read for long periods of time in weeks. The slow plot does pick up towards the end but for most of the book it just plods along at a decent pace.

The slow plot was partly because of all the world building going on. There was lots of foundations set up in this first book which makes me think book 2's plot will be less bogged down with information. I really enjoyed learning about the world though; there was some very interesting magic- there were sorcerers, magicians and witches with a very interesting hierarchy between the three. It was also really cool how the magic works-the sorcerers use a stave and then magicians have items. It was very different and I liked that. There was also a lot of mythology background given about these demons that are called Ancients who are wreaking havoc on the world which reminded me of some other series.

The main character Henrietta was fun to read about even if I didn't agree with a lot of what she was doing. I really enjoyed the take on the chosen one trope and how she was constantly doubting herself.

There was such a big cast of characters which was great. There is so much possibilities for love interests it's so interesting. It can go in so many directions which is different to most YA books where you can obviously pick out who the author intends the main character to end up with. There are the boys who take her in (one is such a fun character, he is a YA stereotype with sarcastic witty comments and all arrogance but I loved it! And then there is one who she hates at the starts and grudgingly starts to like him like the reader. And then there is another potential male lead but I hated him- I could not understand why Henrietta liked him.)

One of the things I have to complain about was the lack of female characters. There was only Henrietta, Lilly her maid, one of the boys sisters (who we only interact with for 2 pages) and then the queen (who we also only see for a few pages). I would have liked to see more girls.

The setting of Victorian London (if you are looking for something similar to TID give A Shadow Bright and Burning a go) was good but I felt like parts weren't very historically accurate. Henrietta's behaviour was very modern, I get that she was written in 2016 but I had expected the other characters to pull her up on her behaviours but it was never mentioned.

Overall I had fun learning about this new world and can see lots of potential for future books so I will definitely be picking up book 2!

Thanks for reading,

A :)

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

*This post contains spoilers for the first two books in the series: The Sword of Summer and The Hammer of Thor! You can read my review of book 1 here and book 2 here!

Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #3

Publication:October 3rd 2017 by Disney-Hyperion

Goodreads Description:
Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin's chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn't naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus and his crew must sail to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard's greatest threat. Will they succeed in their perilous journey, or is Ragnarok lurking on the horizon?

My thoughts:
I had a lot of fun reading Ship of the Dead and was sad to come to the end of one of my favourite series. I think Ship of the Dead was my least favourite in the series but it was still great!

In Ship of the Dead Magnus is so different from the kid we meet in book 1; he has definitely grown up over the course of the trilogy. His narration was just as funny as the previous two books and had me laughing out loud. I loved how loyal he was to his friends and how kindhearted he is; he is such a Hufflepuff!

Of course I loved reading about Sam; she is one of my favourite Riordan characters. I really admire her determination and strength. I also loved how much her faith is discussed and how Ramadan was mentioned and how Sam was in the middle of it during the novel. I have never come across that kind of representation before and it's so important; especially in a series that has a younger fan base.

We get to spend a good chunk of time with Magnus' hall mates in Ship of the Dead so we get to know them better which was fun! I liked T.J. but had a few problems with Mallory; most readers won't pick up on the things that annoyed me as they are all to do with being Irish. In the beginning she is a very stereotypical Irish girl with red hair and temper. She also says Gaelic not Irish when talking about the language we speak- this is a common error most authors make who are not Irish and it annoys me so much; we speak Irish and it is sometimes called Gaeilge NOT gaelic! I did grow to tolerate her by the end because she does do some great things. 

Another Irish thing I want to note since I am talking about Mallory; I was surprised Rick Riordan knew about/ mentioned the Vikings in Dublin. I was so glad he did because that's a big part of our history curriculum in primary school! I was also very surprised there was talk about Bloody Friday (1972) and the Troubles because of how taboo it is to talk about it in Ireland. I've never really come across Irish history in my reading before so that was cool.

The plot was pretty standard Rick Riordan; people say his books are very formulaic with the prophecies and quests and they are but I always have fun reading the formula he uses for his plots so I didn't have a problem with it. I still say The Last Olympian is his perfect concluding novel, Ship of the Dead was good but not Oh My God Good.The ending was a bit anticlimactic but you kind of know it is going to be while you are reading, I was hoping it was going to take a twist and get action packed but nope; it was good but nothing amazing which was a bit disappointing.

I felt like Alex, who is my favourite character in the series, didn't have as much page time and s/he did in book 2 and I was a bit sad about that. Alex brings so much fun to the story and whenever we weren't with him/her I was flicking ahead to see when his/her name would pop up.

Note for Percy fans, as we know at the end of Hammer of Thor Annabeth says it is time for Magnus to meet Percy and straight off the bat we have Percy helping Magnus out in Ship of the Dead. There was some Percabeth that had me freaking out because they are adorable. Warning to fans that are expecting loads of Percy; don't expect that. Percy and Annabeth are only present for the first few chapters and while I wished they could have stayed longer it is important to note that this is Magnus' story not theirs.

I definitely think there are going to be more books; there was a tiny hint for a storyline that could be continued in the future. I am going to miss reading about Magnus and his friends, this series is definitely in one of my favourite Rick Riordan's work only after Percy Jackson.

Thanks for reading,
A :)

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Series: Pushing the Limits, #2

Publication:May 28th 2013 by Harlequin Teen

Goodreads Description:
Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

My Thoughts:
Firstly I am not putting a picture of the book cover in this post because it is completely deceiving! Do not judge this series by it's book covers. It is one of those great series that is cursed with awful covers (like Jennifer L Armentrout's books). This is a companion series but you can definitely read Dare You To without having read Pushing the Limits but I would recommend reading Pushing the Limits (you can read my review here!

I absolutely loved Dare You To! It was such a fun read but had some heavy emotional parts too. I love going into Katie McGarry books knowing next to nothing and being surprised and that's what I did for this one and I was so excited when I figured out what kind of story it was going to be. I liked it even more than Pushing The Limits and so much that I don't know i the next book in the series can top this one!

Beth was my favourite character in Pushing the Limits so I partly loved this book so much because Beth was the main character. I loved how complex and layered she was. In the story she really struggles with her more girly feminine side and how she represses it in favour of the more tough I-don't-care attitude. Her character arc was paced perfectly and there was some lovely character development evident in Dare You To. I loved her in Pushing The Limits but admired her so much more in Dare You To; she slowly changes over the course of the story and it is great. Dare You To is essentially the story of Beth learning about herself and growing up.

I also really liked the main male character, Ryan. He was just such a nice guy; it was hard not to like him. I did have an internal struggle for a good part of the book about Isaiah because I felt like I was betraying him because I wanted Ryan and Beth to be together even though I shipped Isaiah and her in PTL. I loved how Ryan was portrayed as this perfect person until we started to get to know him and then we realised maybe his life isn't as perfect after all. 

I loved the romance between Ryan and Beth; it was so much fun because they are both so different from each other. Their personalities complemented each other so well and made it so interesting to read their dynamic. I also liked how well paced it was; there was no inst love here! It was also great how they had storylines going on that were completely separate from each other.

Dare You To definitely has its emotional parts and I there were bit and pieces here and there that were hard to read. There are some heavy topics to be aware of before reading such as domestic abuse and abuse in general are a big aspect of the story. I can't speak for the representation but I felt like they were handled well. 

Echo and Noah (from Pushing the Limits) do pop into the story but only for a few pages which I was grateful for. This is Beth and Ryan's story and they didn't need to play big roles. They were just thrown in there to keep fans happy and to connect the books as this is a companion series.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading Dare You To and can't wait to pick up the next book in the Pushing the Limits series; although I don't know how it can beat this instalment!

Thanks for reading,
A :)