Shadow and Bone

Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Indigo
Publication Year: 2014
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 3.5

You’re the first glimmer of hope I’ve had for a long time.

Oh gosh I blame Charlie for this. Yet anther series that I’ve fallen in love with because Charlie recommended it to me. I have to stop reading series and start reading more stand-alone novels. Or maybe just stop reading series that Inkwellsandbooksmells recommends because I read the first book and then end up buying the entirety of the rest of the series because I can’t cope waiting. I don’t have the money for this Charlie! I don’t! But the books are so good and I can never wait to get started on the rest of the series.

Now this review is going to go back and forth a lot because there were a bunch of things I liked and didn’t like about this book starting with the love triangle. Does every YA novel have to have a love triangle now? Is this some sort of YA formula? One female lead + one best friend + one mystery, dark broody type = THE BEST LOVE STORY OF ALL TIME. Because I hate them but every time I open a YA novel I seem to stumble across yet another love triangle and it’s starting to get a little repetitive. Although I admit that this one did have a pretty good twist as things moved further along. I for one was not expecting it in the slightest and I think Bardugo did a great job at catching us off guard. But I do think that the relationships definitely could have been developed a little more before the big changes came into play. Then maybe it would have had a greater effect. Having said that I adored the relationship between Mal and Alina. I love best friend relationships and it was great reading about the two best friends growing up together. It really made me happy to see a bit of a background there.

However, while there’s a background for some of the characters, I couldn’t really see a decent world background. In my opinion this entire world wasn’t really built that well. I really wanted to love it because there were so many things that I adored like the creation of Grisha’s and all of their abilities. I thought the Fold was genius and how Alina’s power worked into that was pretty neat. But I felt like it was rather lacking other than that. There was no explanation of where the Grisha powers came from, nor how someone could develop them. I was also a little confused as to how there could be so many Corporalki, Etheralki and Materialki but there’s only one Darkling and only one Alina. But then I guess without that there wouldn’t be a plot. There’s a little bit of information about the different groups that live in this world but there is little/no description of the world. I can only hope this is fixed in the next one!

There are seriously strong chosen one vibes in this though and another timid MC who thinks that she’s unattractive and boring before she manages to enter a love triangle and become one of the most important people in the world. I don’t know but like with love triangles this plot point is incredibly overused. Having said that, I liked that Lina wasn’t a headstrong bad-ass like most MCs. I liked that she was nervous and timid but I found that it was great that as the story developed so did she. She grew as a person (although I thought that she took a huge step forwards at one point, just to take about 3 back later on) and it was amazing seeing that. I also did not see the point in the bitchy character. She literally was not needed at all, other than to give the MC a jealous opponent in order to feel even better about herself.

Then, finally there was the writing. The writing that was so flowing and beautiful and mesmerising. I loved it. Bardugo just has ways of describing scenes that has me hooked and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the next book. Now just to put this review to bed and start reading!

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The Raven Boys

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Year: 2012
Genre: Fantasy | Romance | YA
Rating: 4

Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.

Okay, I admit it, I’ve never read a Maggie Stiefvater book before. I know, I’m sorry! I can hear you all gasping now but it’s true! Shiver didn’t speak to me, nor did the Scorpio Race, and it wasn’t until I saw some of my bookstagram friends discussing it that I finally heard about the Raven Boys. Just 4 years late! I ordered the book after reading through their discussion and started it days after it arrived, only to finish it all within the space of 24 hours!! I have a thing with books, where sometimes I can read them slowly over the space of a couple of days but other times I just devour them in a matter of hours. This was one of the latter.

I’m not a fan of love stories. Okay, that makes me sound cold and horrible and I’m not I promise! What I mean to say is that I’m not a fan of cliche love stories and for me this sounded like one of them. For starters all of this is over a kiss. A kiss? There’s a lot more to relationships than just kissing so I really don’t see what the big deal is here? Then there’s the whole she-loves-him-but-can’t-be-with-him trope that is sweeping YA literature, which annoys me almost as much as the stereotypical love triangle (and low and behold this book has one of those too!), so I almost skipped this. But I heard about a treasure hunt and treasure hunts are my guilty pleasure! 

Any book that involves searching for someone or something is my passion! I can’t get enough of he Dan Brown novels, the Tolkien adventures and even spy novels. I just adore them. When that’s tossed into a crazy cauldron of paranormal and fantasy, I can’t imagine anything better! It’s like all of my favourite things packed into one book series and it’s left me dying for the next book in the series.

Gansey’s quest is by far my favourite thing about this whole novel. Watching them work out all of the different points of the mystery was beyond interesting, especially when it came to exploring the ley lines. It was just made better by the haunting atmosphere that Stiefvater managed to create. As I said earlier I’ve never read a Stiefvater book before, but after reading this one I really want to. I was utterly enthralled by it all. Her omniscient third-person made it almost too easy to get to know the characters and her writing was almost as magical as her story. The effect it created was tremendous.

Not that the characters were too hard to get to know, because Stiefvater created some great characters and I’m eager to see how they develop in the future. At first I hated them, the boys that is. I couldn’t get enough of Blue and her crazy house of psychics (how cool is that? A group of strong, independent women living together!) but the stuck-up rich Raven Boys weren’t my style. They were too cliche. And then we got a bit deeper and well, I sort of started to appreciate them as well. They’re different, definitely unique, and who knows what will happen to them next? I did have one small issue when it came to the characters though, and that was that Stiefvater was a bit tell and don’t show about their personalities. She told us what they were like right at the beginning, rather than letting us to learn ourselves. Perhaps that’s why it took me so long to get to like them.

This book definitely amazed me. It was cliche at times but it definitely was original as well. Some of the plot twists were incredible and I didn’t see so many of them coming. I did see a lot of quotes though that caught my eye and, as I’ve heard a lot about foreshadowing, I have a few suspicions for the later books.

If you ask me, Stiefvater should have rewritten the blurb for this one because there’s very little romance involved in this first book. Yes its clear from the first chapter that the Gansey/Blue relationship is going to be a thing (or maybe it’s a mislead oooh) and the other leg of the triangle is present as well, but there’s not a lot of love. It’s more adventure and fantasy and, boy, am I down for that. I just hope the other books follow the same path.

My Lady Jane

Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: YA | Historical Fiction | Romance | Fantasy | Comedy
Rating: 4

“I am sixteen years old,” she told the empty room. “And tomorrow I will die.”

I’m sat here now, staring at a blinking black cursor and wondering just how I’m supposed to describe exactly what reading My Lady Jane entails. Because this book is like nothing else I’ve read before. Sure I’ve read historical fictions – I’ve tackled plenty of those in my time – and humour novels don’t go amiss either. But if you’re expecting either one or the other (especially if it’s historical fiction) then I really wouldn’t recommend this.

This book makes a total mockery of the English history in a Monty-Python like fashion, so much so that it even apologises for it in the start of the book. This book is totally absurd and wacky and everything that was so brilliant about Monty Python but jammed into a historical YA about some of England’s ancestors. It worked so well, especially as each point of view was written by a different author, meaning that there was a strong sense of this voice is this person and this voice belongs to them. I found this great as it meant I wasn’t confused at all and it really made the multiple POVs work for me.

It’s definitely easy to say that you should not go into this book with the intent of reading a serious historical fiction. My Lady Jane diverges as far from the truth as it possibly can (or is it merely divulging the truth that we’ve all ignored for so long?) and puts a truly hilarious retelling on the reign of Lady Jane Grey. There is a strong game of who said what first (not Shakespeare) playing through the entire novel and the only thing I found slightly irritating was the amount of times that the authors jumped in with their own personal comments. But only because it disrupted the story that I wanted to keep reading!

There is a whole bunch of lovable characters as well including, but not limited to, the world’s most unluckiest bookworm, a misunderstood man, with a slight equestrian issue, and a sickly prince, who just wants to be free. Together these three misfits attempt to first rule a kingdom and second bring justice to those that have wronged them. Or maybe the other way around?

Either way, My Lady Jane is a book worth reading. And did I mention there’s a skunk? Yeah, you’re going to have to read it to find out about that one.

Cinder

Title: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Year: 2012
Genre: YA | Romance | Fairytale Retelling | Science Fiction
Rating: 4

Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.

It took me four years to read this. For four years I have denied myself the impressive world of the Lunar Chronicles series. Well no longer! It was a dark and gloomy Thursday evening when I finally picked Cinder up off my enormous to be read pile and it was early the following afternoon when I turned the final page with a strong feeling of being underwhelmed. I powered through this book, waiting for the part where it was going to become this amazing book that so many people have sung praises about. But it just never hit that mark for me. Having said that, I did enjoy this book. It just didn’t hit that astounding button that everyone had promised it would.

Cinder in an incredibly popular retelling of the traditional Cinderella with a twist. The Cinderella that we all know and love isn’t quite as human as she was before. In fact she’s a cyborg. Or- part cyborg. For me, this was an incredible idea. What is not to love about a female lead who is disciplined in the mechanical side of technology? It’s so rare to read about women like that. But for all of the mechanic technical talk and cyborg limbs, she wasn’t actually that unhuman. Is that weird to say? Considering she has a cyborg brain, she is incredibly human. Surely scientists of that world should be incredibly interested in a cyborg (regardless of how part she is) with such a strong personality. I think that Meyers also missed out on many opportunities for Cinder to question her humanity. Does she count as human or cyborg? What about her personality and her feelings? Are they really hers or are they something that has simply been programmed by her cyborg brain? So many missed opportunities!

The plot though was good and stuck pretty well to the main fairy tale. Sometimes things happened that surprised me and when Lunars got involved I was beyond surprised. This whole world creation that Meyer went through was unexpected, or at least I hadn’t expected it! I was expecting a simple fairy tale retelling, not a complete whole world to explore. Then Meyer chucked Lunars at us and a Cyborg-human hierarchy (that I really didn’t understand to be honest) and it was great. I really enjoyed learning about Meyer’s world, especially with the introduction of the plague and the reveal of where it had come from. So interesting!

One of the other things I didn’t enjoy was the Asian culture. Or, rather, it was the complete lack of Asian culture. Considering this was set in New Bejing with an Asian protagonist, there were very little Asian elements in the plot. I’m aware it’s based of a very white-central fairy tale but surely a few changes could have been made in order to support this supposed Asian-heritage. Oh! I also wasn’t a fan of the way that it took Cinder way too long to figure out the truth. Seriously the first moment it was mentioned, barely hinted at at the start of the novel I was like oh- Darn. This is going to happen. It did as well but it took Cinder almost 350 pages to figure it out and she had to be told by someone! I was expecting it to take a while but that was seriously too long!

Despite that though I did enjoy the novel. I found it a fun read and I’m definitely considering picking up the other books in the series at some point because I’m curious to see where the plot is going to go from here. Especially when it comes to introducing our other fairy tale legends.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1)
Author: Becky Chambers
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Science Fiction |
Rating:4

We cannot blame ourselves for the wars our parents start. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is walk away.

Admittedly I was expecting a little more action from this one so if you’re wanting a book that’s packed with action with laser rays shooting from ship to ship and the blood-curdling screams of space warriors as they rush into battle, then I’d suggest putting this down and picking up another sci-fi, such as Leviathan Wakes or The Iron Duke. But if you’re looking for a great character-focused novel though, with a diverse group of main characters then this is the book you want.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet follows the lives of the crew of a Wayfarer, a patched -up tunnelling ship with one heck of a crew. Consisting of 5 Humans, 1 Aandrisk, 1 Grum and a Sianat, it’s obvious that this crew is open to people of any species. One of the best things about this book was learning about the diversity of the crew. I had so much fun learning about the different species. Chambers has managed to involve so much diversity in her little crew as the Sianat doesn’t possess a fixed gender: it simply uses the pronouns they/them. There’s also an Aandrisk changes gender as it ages ! Amazing! I love how creative Chambers has been while creating all of these different creatures. There’s also got some great female characters that don’t need anyone to save their asses. All of her characters are just perfection!

And the world that she’s built? It’s easily one of the nicest worlds I’ve ever seen. Although it’s based loosely off of our own, it was so interesting to see the way that humans had migrated to different planets after the destruction of the Earth. Furthermore just reading about everything that Chambers has created is so awe-inspiring. Everything is so elegantly formulated and it’s just so interesting to read how everything has come about. There isn’t really much of a plot for the first half of the book. It’s mainly just building the characters and introducing the reader to the world, which I loved, but if you’re not a fan of that then you may find this a little boring.

Following that theme, some of the other problems I have with the book was the unexpected relationship. There was a relationship that was so unexpected it literally came out of nowhere. One minute they were friends and then it was let’s take this further. I think that could have been built up a little better but I would totally ship them if there was a little more chemistry! Also one of the side plots for one of the crew members also is completely random. I think again if it had been built up a little better with mention of the science that was behind it earlier in the novel then that would have improved it sevenfold.

Other than that I had no issues with the novel. Usually I hate long-drawn out plots but I actually really loved this one. The characters were so relatable and so much fun to read about. I’ll definitely be recommending this one!

 

Zenith

Title: Zenith (The Androma Saga #1)
Author: Sasha Alsberg, Lindsay Cummings
Publisher: Mirabel Inc.
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Science Fiction | Young Adult
Rating: 4

She lived for the trill of life dangling on the edge of death.

I’m not excited! You’re excited! Okay maybe I’m a little bit excited. But when Mark Watney spoke of Space Pirates I didn’t think we’d actually get Space Pirates and they are kickass female Space Pirates to boot! Are you excited yet? Because I was. The second I read that blurb I couldn’t wait to read about the Bloody Baroness (this name makes me think so much of Harry Potter though) and her Marauder crew. I admit that I first looked up this book because a lot of people were talking about it in the Booktube-verse and then I saw the cover and I knew I had to read it.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Science Fiction novel that’s actually been set in space. The most recent is the Martian and even that was lacking the futuristic characteristics that I adore about the Sci-Fi genre. Zenith has been the perfect fix after such a long period without my addiction. Not only does it encompass everything that can be understood by the term ‘girl power’ but it also rapidly thrusts you into a world that you can’t wait to explore. Admittedly it’s perhaps a little too quick at times. There were a few moments where I was utterly lost because I had no clue as there were many places mentioned that I couldn’t imagine. Perhaps if a book version is released a map would be helpful to readers.

As it was, I’m sure that they’ll expand on that in upcoming issues. Because, unfortunately, this is only the first instalment in the novel! I was heartbroken when I came to the last few pages because I was already utterly involved in this story. I desperately want to know what happens next and whether they managed to complete their quest or not. I want to see how they all work together (or not as may be the case with Andi and Dex) to gain entry into Xen Petra and find the prince. I also want to know what happened to him in the first place! And what Nor is planning.

I already have so many questions and this is only the first instalment. I can’t imagine what will happen as more instalments are released! I only hope there isn’t a long wait- I don’t think that I could take it.

Also Gilly is my favourite. She’s such a little fiery devil spawn.

The Gauguin Connection

Title: The Gauguin Connection
Author: Estelle Ryan
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Year: 2012
Genre: Mystery | Crime | Thriller
Rating: 4

Emotions had always been a nuisance to me. I knew that they were messengers, telling me what was happening in my psyche, but having them often interfered with rationality.

The Gauguin Connection has one thing that a lot of other mystery novels lack, in my opinion – a truly unique protagonist. There are so many ways that people can be murdered and mystery writers use and create these in abundance. But when it comes to the mystery solvers, we always seem to have the same old Joe in every single one. The smart, charming male detective and his gorgeous female love interest. Then we’re hit with the astounding character that is Genevieve and, well, I was hooked instantly. Unlike most characters, Genevieve copes with a social disorder that prevents her from having a normal life. But that doesn’t stop her from doing what she believes she has to, even when it may put her in incredibly awkward situations!

I stumbled across The Gauguin Connection on yet another search for a free book to read at work and I really did like it! It’s not only the astounding main character who makes the book though, it’s the stellar supporting roles that also made this an interesting read! Colin is an example of the typical suave gentleman but with an interesting twist. He’s a “bad guy” and a thief but he’s not also completely terrible. Then there’s Vinnie, who might just be my favourite character in the novel. He’s a dangerous crook and a gun for hire but he’s also a giant teddy bear, who is amazing in the kitchen! They work together so well and it was so humorous to read all of their interactions and banter.

In fact, this entire novel was such a pleasant read! It was a tangle of clues leading to other clues that could only be unravelled when the entire team worked together. There were many times when I had no clue what was going to happen next and I was actually interested to see the way that Jen-Girl worked everything out. Most of the time books skip over the stage of actually doing the research and, although it may sound boring, The Gauguin Connection actually does that. And it’s really fun. I found it so interesting to see what Genevieve used and how her connections were made!

If you’re looking for a book to read then look no further. This is a nice read and it was free on the Kindle store when I snatched it up so you should definitely have a look over there and see if you can find it too! I was a bit disappointed at the ending but it was just opening up to a new book, which will hopefully be just as good as the first!