Saturday, 25 June 2016

Falling Kingdoms

By Morgan Rhodes


In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.
The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct. Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making. Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield. Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....

Publication date: December 11th 2012

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 2.5 / 5
My Thoughts:

Many fellow bookfriends recommended this series to me but some things are just not meant to be. I tried incredibly hard to enjoy this book but I just could not bring myself to love it. The storyline was interesting enough, and there were some cool characters but it just did not live up to the hype and, in my eyes, fell a tad bit flat.

Falling Kingdoms is pitched as a favourite for fans of game of thrones. I haven't read the GoT books but I'm a fan of the show, and I can see the likeness between this book and GoT... The different kingdoms and their power struggles and a rather taboo relationship, all make it a read for GoT fans.  Personally, that wasn't enough.

As the first book in a high fantasy series, there is a lot of world-building, as expected, but the story lacked that addiction that would make me want to read on. I couldn't relate to any of the characters. When characters died, or were injured, it didn't affect me as it should have! (Note that generally, I care far too much about fictional characters than I should!)

The elders were uncertain how to proceed. So many centuries and nothing. No clues. No leads. Even paradise could become a prison if one had enough time to take notice of the walls.

The ultimate test for me on whether I enjoyed the book or not is if I can remember the main characters names. Whilst reading Falling Kingdoms I also started Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, and right now, I can only recall the characters from the latter read :S

Cleo didn't like "hopefullys." She liked certainties. She liked knowing that tomorrow would be pleasant and sunny and filled with fun activities. She liked knowing that her family and friends were healthy and happy. Anything else was unacceptable.
It's a shame because I had such high hopes for this book. There are plenty of fans of this series so clearly it must be doing something right, but sadly I'm not one of them.

Favourite Quotes:
But this felt right. This felt more right than anything else in his life ever had. "Will you come with me to meet with Chief Basilius?"
"And miss witnessing his order for your head to be removed and place on a spike for trying to incite a revolution in your brother's name?" Brion laughed. "Not for all the gold in Auranos."

Finally the king spoke. "If I admit something like this to you, Magnus, we're treading on very dangerous ground.
"The truth is only dangerous if it can inflict injury."
"I never said she was evil. Nor was she good. Even in the darkest and most cruel person, there is still a kernel of good. And within the most perfect champion, there is also darkness. The question is, will one give into the dark or light? It's something we decide with every choice we make, every day that we exist. What might not be evil to you could be evil to someone else. Knowing this makes us powerful even without magic."

Friday, 17 June 2016

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)

By Sarah J. Maas


The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the
New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Publication date: September 1st 2015

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 5 / 5 !!!
My Thoughts:

What a fantabulous read! Based on the three previous books in the Throne of Glass series, I knew Maas would not disappoint but there's always that niggling doubt. Needless to say, that doubt has been squashed, squished and blown far, far away!

Aelin is magnificent in this read. I could clearly see her transition from all her previous personas to Queen. That fear she had of running from her past, her ancestry, is no longer there. Aelin is full on, fire-breathing-bitch-queen mode.
"This city still needs protecting," Chaol snapped.
Aelin shrugged, heading for the roof door. "Or maybe this city should burn," she murmured. A chill went down Aedion's spine, even though he knew she'd said it to piss off the captain. "Maybe the world should burn," she added, and stalked off the roof.
As you can guess, there is a LOT of action, but the romance and wit is all there too. I feel rather fickle in admitting that Chaol has been replaced by Rowas as Aelin's ultimate partner! Chaol was perfect for her at the time, but he only saw what he wanted to see, which was a damn shame. Reading how Aelin had fallen out of love with Chaol gave me definite feels....
There were perhaps only three feet between them now--three feet and months and months of missing and hating him. Months of crawling out of that abyss he'd shoved her into. But now that she was here... Everything was an effort not to say she was sorry. Sorry not for what she'd done to his face, but for the fact that her heart was healed- still fractured in spots, but healed- and he... he was not in it. Not as he'd once been.
In comes Rowan and, like Aelin says, they helped each other out of the darkness and despair. They argue and swear and fight so much but it's clear that they both have that fae wildness. They're not a cutesy, sweet couple, but they're awesome and fiery together, which is just what this story needs.
"Why are you crying?" he asked, trying to push her back far enough to read her face again.
But she held on to him, so fiercely she could feel the weapons beneath his clothes. It would still be fine, even if it went to hell, so long as he was here with her. "I'm crying," she sniffled, "because you smell so rutting bad my eyes are watering."
At the end of the last book, we see that Dorian's body is now inhabited by a Valg Prince. Although Dorian is still there, slowly he is succumbing to the evilness of the Valg and forgetting who he is. It was heartbreaking see him semi-disappear and scary to think that Dorian could be gone forever. 

Aedion is awesomeness defined. He and Lysandra bring the humour to the story and I daresay that there may be a potential romance between them going forwards?
"This one," she said, pointing to a jagged scar by her elbow. Aedion came around the couch to sit beside her. He took up nearly half of the damn thing. "The Pirate Lord of Skull's Bay gave that to me after I trashed his entire city, freed his slaves, and looked damn good while doing it."
Aedion took the bottle of wine and drank from it. "Has anyone ever taught you humility?"
"You didn't learn it, so why should I?"
It's hard to discuss this book without revealing major spoilers so I shall stop for now. Unlike the previous books, this had a more fulfilling ending and I think the wait for Empire of Storms is release later this year won't be as bad as I had expected. Meanwhile, I shall begin reading Maas's other books, starting with A Court of Thorns and Roses! 

Favourite Quotes (beware of spoiler-ish ones!):
"I miss you," she said. "Every day, I miss you. And I wonder what you would have made of all this. Made of me. I think- I think you would have been a wonderful king. I think they would have liked you more than me, actually." Her throat tightened. "I never told you-how I felt. But I loved you, and I think a part of me might always love you. Maybe you were my mate, and I never knew it. Maybe I'll spend the rest of my life wandering about that. Maybe I'll see you again in the Afterworld, and then I'll know for sure. But until then... until then I'll miss you, and I'll wish you were here."
"Apparently," he said, walking toward her and offering an arm, "we both clean up well."
She gave him a sly grin as she took his elbow, the scent of almonds wrapping around her again. "Don't forget your cloak. You'd feel rather guilty when all those poor mortal women combust at the sight of you."
"I'd say likewise, but I think you'd enjoy seeing men bursting into flames as you strutted by."
She winked at him, and his chuckle echoed through her bones and blood.
"I missed you," he said quietly, his gaze darting between her mouth and eyes. "When I was in Wendlyn. I lied when I said I didn't. From the moment you left, I missed you so much I went out of my mind. I was glad for the excuse to track Lorcan here, just to see you again. And tonight, when he had that knife at your throat..." The warmth of his callused finger bloomed through her as he traced a path over the cut on her neck. "I kept thinking about how you might never know that I missed you with only an ocean between us. But if it was death separating us... I would find you. I don't care how many rules it would break. Even if I had to get all three keys myself and open a gate. I would find you again. Always."
She said softly, "You make me want to live, Rowan. Not survive; not exist. Live."

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

By Sarah J. Maas



She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth...a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king's assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the
New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

Publication date: August 7th 2012

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.5 / 5 !!!
My Thoughts:

What is with Maas and all the feels she likes torturing her readers with?!? Heir of Fire is an amazing third book in the ToG series. I devoured it in two days!

Initially, I wondered why some events were told from Manon's perspective (one of the many evil witches) but like everything else in this series there's always some sort of connection. I won't lie and say that I loved all the characters, despite Manon's slowly thawing heart, she is still a complete wretch. I appreciate that the witches bring their children up to be full of hate and brutality and it's not their fault but I despised them all regardless.

Another person I wasn't Too impressed with this time round was Chaol. Yes, he is the perfect partner for Celaena and their tragic love story will likely never result in a happy ending but he wound me up to no end with his shock and disappointment in Celaena. He's so judgey! What did he expect from the greatest assassin in the world? I get that she's made some stupid mistakes and bad choices but stop with all the judging! Even Dorian called him out on it...
"Do you still love her?" He didn't know why it was important.
Chaol closed his eyes for a moment. "A part of me will always love her. But I had to get her out of this castle. Because it was too dangerous, and she was...what she was becoming..."
"She was not becoming anything different from what she always was and always had the capacity to be. You just finally saw everything. And once you saw that other part of her..." Dorian said quietly. It had taken him until now, until Sorscha, to understand what that meant. "You cannot pick and choose what parts of her to love."
I thought Dorian was a leeetle spoiled in the last book but he's outdone himself this time round. I loved him sooo much! He finally managed to semi get over Celaena and is working on his magic, which I admired about him.

Celaena is badass as ever so there's not much to add apart from that she's the most brilliant female character I've read about (coming very close to Emma from Cassy Clare's Lady Midnight). Her heartbreak and struggles were so emotional and I loved how Maas made it all so realistic, and there were times I almost cried. Almost.
It had been ten years-ten long years since she had heard her mother's voice. But she heard it then over the force of her weeping, as clear as if she knelt beside her. Fireheart-why do you cry?
"Because I am lost," she whispered onto the earth. "And I do not know the way."
It was what she had never been able to tell Nehemia-that for ten years, she had been unsure how to find the way home, because there was no home left.
Finally, a new favourite of mine is Rowan. **Sigh** It's clear that presently there's no romance between him and Aelin but their connection is Mindblowing. I thought She could only have such chemistry with Chaol but Rowan might be a stronger contender. Especially since Rowan is fae, so doesn't have that much human emotion to pity her, which is just what she needed. I love him and think he's so awesome so Maas please don't kill him in the next book!!! 

Favourite Quotes:

"I don't know what you want from Maeve-what answers you're looking for, but you-"
"You don't know what I want from her?" It was more of a shout than a question. "How about saving the world from the King of Adarlan?"
"Why bother? Maybe the world's not worth saving." She knew he meant it, too. Those lifeless eyes spoke volumes.
He looked at his friend, perhaps for the last time, and said what he had always known, from the moment they'd met, when he'd understood that the prince was his brother in soul. "I love you."

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

By Sarah J. Maas



From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Publication date: August 27th 2013

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.5 / 5
My Thoughts:

Omg. So many feels! The second book in the Throne of Glass serious is heartbreakingly sad... I guessed Celaena had her share of secrets but nothing would have prepared me for this (no spoilers). Why would you do this, Maas?

And then the whole business between Chaol and Celaena. She was so happy that I knew there was no way it would last. I'm known to be far too cynical for my own good so when I read about finally, how happy she was, alarm bells rang. I wondered what could possibly happen for them to break off and I hoped it wouldn't be another Sam situation where Chaol was killed. The reality was worse but not in a dying way!

"No, but you keep saying 'be careful' and telling me how you worry, and insisting you help me with things, and-"
"Because I
do worry!"
"Well, you shouldn't! I'm just as capable of looking after myself you are!"
He took a step toward her, but she held her ground. "Believe me, Celaena," he snarled, his eyes flashing, "I know you can look after yourself. But I worry because I
care. Gods help me, I know I shouldn't, but I do. So I will always tell you to be careful, because I will always care what happens."
Poor Dorian, he's stuck in love with her but knows they can't be together. Not only because he's the future king and she's Adarlin's assassin, but also because he can see that his best friend and Celaena are in love, well before they realise it. For such a funny and charismatic guy, he doesn't appear to have much luck in the second book.

The ending confused me a little and without giving too much away, I can't think how the next book will work, especially since the circumstances will mean that Celaena's interactions with her two admirers will be few and far between. In spite of this, I can't wait to dive in to the third book. It's clear that the magic and adventures will increase, but so will the heartbreak and perhaps that's what makes this series so addictive! 

Favourite Quotes:

"He hated each lie that came out of his mouth, but Dorian drank them up, his eyes seeming to glow with rage. This was the other sacrifice he'd have to make; because if Dorian didn't hate him, if he didn't want Chaol gone, then leaving for Anielle would be that much more difficult.
"If anything happens to her in Wendlyn," Dorian growled, refusing to back down, "I'll make you regret the day you were born."
If anything happened to her, Chaol was fairly certain he'd forever regret that day, too.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Throne of Glass (Book One)

By Sarah J. Maas



In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Publication date: August 7th 2012

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.5 / 5
My Thoughts:

Many of my fellow bookstagrammers have recommended this series but I tried not to get sucked into the hype, always believing that sometimes books are overhyped for no reason. At the same time, I had my doubts. Surely there must be something awesome about this if practically every YA reader adores the series and the author is a New York Times bestselling author? So, I gave it a go and whoa, it was AMAZING. WHY have I not read this series before??!!! Perhaps it's a good thing because I abhor waiting for subsequent books in a series to be released so at least now I have four books to catch up on.

Firstly, let's discuss the main protagonist Celaena Sardothien. She is The most badass girl ever. Known to be the ultimate assassin, she has her ruthless outer layer, with her witty / arrogant remarks to defend the rather sensitive person she hides within. I loved her character especially because she ends up saving others rather than being the damsel in distress. Celaena's courage amazed me, even after everything she's been through, from her parent's murder to the year as a slave in the worst slave camp ever- I was shocked at how bravely she accepts each new problem.

"You deserve to be laughed at for such foolish thoughts! I spoke from my soul; you speak only from selfishness."
"You're remarkably judgmental."
"What's the point in having a mind if you don't use it to make judgments?"
"What's the point in having a heart if you don't use it to spare others from the harsh judgments of your mind?"
"Oh, well said, Your Highness!"

Onto Chaol, *sigh.* He tries so hard to be the detached and uncaring Captain but even he falls under the assassin's spell. They argue and banter so much to begin with, but it's clear that there's something there; even the Prince realises it before the do. He and Celaena make the perfect dream couple and I completely ship this pair. At first, I thought the Prince might be better suited for her, given his more easygoing temperament but Celaena and Chaol's chemistry was far more interesting. It's clear that any type of relationship will be difficult for an assassin like Celaena to maintain, especially one with the Captain of the Guard but there's always hope!

"Enjoyed that, did you?" Chaol growled.
"Immensely." Celaena patted Chaol's arm as she took it in her own. "Now you must pretend that you
like me, or else everything will be ruined."
"You and the Crown Prince share the same sense of humor, it seems."
"Perhaps he and I will become dear friends, and you will be left to rot."

The Prince was a tad bit irritating in that he appeared to like her a lot but at the same time he's so used to getting what he wants all the time that he acts out when Celaena doesn't react the way he would like. He was a leeeetle bit over confident for my tastes but she soon put him in his place!

"Want to play?"
"I already old you that I don't feel well."
"You look fine to me." He skilfully shuffled the deck. "Just one game."
"Don't you pay people to entertain you?"
He glowered, breaking the deck. "You should be honored by my company."
"I'd be honored if you would leave."

I've shared some of my favourite quotes in this review. If you haven't read this series yet, I hope my review encourages you to do so! :)

Friday, 19 February 2016

Tell the Wind and Fire

By Sarah Rees Brennan



Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.

The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…

Publication date: April 5th 2016

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 3.4 / 5
My Thoughts:

I haven’t read Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities but, based on the author's note, some elements of Tell the Wind and Fire are based on it. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Rees Brennan’s previous books so when I was approved on NetGalley for an ARC of TTWAF I had to request it ASAP. 

The story is set in a New York divided between Light and Dark magic, both sides battling against each other and a power shift when the Darkness begins to overpower the Light. The Light/Dark world was an interesting concept but felt a leeeetle simplistic for my liking. I'm used to Brennan's imaginative and unusual plots so a fight between Light and Dark, when Light magicians aren't always right and good and vice versa was a bit, well, boring. However, I must say that TTWAF was a much darker YA read than I expected from Brennan.

Happiness is self-sabotage, a mean trick that your mind plays on you. It makes you careless, makes you lose your grip, and once you lose your grip, you lose everything. You certainly aren’t happy anymore.
Lucie is divided between the two cities since she was born and raised in the Dark city, but has spent the last few years, since her father's rescue, in the Light city with Ethan. She reminded me of Katniss from the Hunger Games; seen as a beacon of hope and a symbol of the rebellion but isn’t willing to actively participate in the rebellion itself. She wants nothing more than to keep the people she loves safe, but unfortunately everyone she loves is in danger by association. Lucie is a likeable character in a difficult situation with a difficult upbringing but I always felt that there was so much more she could do for the peace if she tried. She’s happy to fake smile and pretend it’s all okay so that she doesn’t upset anyone and ensure her father's safety, but as the MC I wished she had shown more courage and taken more risks. She's too scared to make a move out of place just in case the safety and protection given by the Strykers, is taken away from her. Don’t get me wrong, there were times when she put herself in immense danger, but those were few and far between. Plus, she takes risks with Carwyn, always with the best intentions, which I found weird because it was all out of character for her. 
I said I just wanted to help people, to ease their suffering, but that was a lie. I didn’t do it to help anyone but myself.  I wasn’t showing real compassion for strangers, I wasn’t showing what I really felt. Real grief is ugly and uncomfortable. People look away from grief the same way they look away from severed limbs or gaping wounds. What they want is pain like death on a stage: beautiful, bloodless, presented for their entertainment. 

My favourite character was Carwyn. As the ‘evil doppelganger’ everyone is expected to hate him because doppelgangers don't have a soul (or so they say). When Carwyn pretends to be Ethan Stryker, he purposely mocks Ethan, his family and life to wind everyone up. Despite him being the ‘dark’ version of Ethan, his bitter humour made the story lighter and fun to read. His actions were rather predictable, especially the ending, but I still enjoyed his part in it. 
I spoke through my teeth. “I’m afraid I have to go home to Penelope. I have to be there for her and Marie right now.”“Oh, becase one of your adopted family has disappeared into the Dark city, possibly never to return? Of course. How insensitive of me. Please forgive me. I will think of you fondly during every course at dinner, and twice during the cheese course.”
Ethan was undoubtedly the most underrated character in this story. Although he has a huge role, we see very little of him throughout and only really get to learn about him at the very end. Initially, I was hoping Lucie and Carwyn would end up together because Ethan was portrayed as the boring ‘golden boy’ but after the ending, I’m glad she stayed true to Ethan!
“Why torture me, then?”His shadowed, moonlit face changed, amusement overcoming exhaustion, his mouth curling into a sly grin. “I said I wasn’t a criminal mastermind whose devious plans topple cities,” Carwyn told me. “I never said I was nice.”
Overall, a good read but not as exciting and fun as I had hoped. Sarah Rees Brennan’s wit flows through Carwyn’s character, which is probably the main reason why I’d recommend this book. Brennan is one of my favourite authors, which is why I expected much more, but there are many underlying messages about good and evil that I believe will be useful for younger readers.
The only choice, in the Light city or the Dark, was to be twisted or to break.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Lady Midnight

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Despite what's currently going on in the news in relation to Cassandra Clare and plagiarism accusations, the book that I cannot wait to read is:


Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)
By Cassandra Clare

Publication date: March 8th 2016

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Source: Goodreads

What's your WoW pick of the week?