Throne of Glass

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Year:2012
Genre: Fantasy | Romance | YA
Rating: 3

Still the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lonely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back.

I feel like I always read books in the wrong order. I’ll finish one book and I’ll be gushing about it to someone and they’ll just go “yeah but have you read their other series?” and I just sort of blanch. Most of the time I end up reading other series before an author’s most famous and this happened to me again with Throne of Glass. I fell in love with the ACOTAR series and then discovered that Maas had an entirely different series, with a badass assassin as a main character and I was over the moon. Naturally I ordered them all instantly. Now I’m not so sure I should have rushed into things as quickly as I did. It’s not that I hated this book, I just think I expected more than it gave me.

Going into this book I was ensured that she was as epic as Frodo and that the book was reminiscent of Game of Thrones and those are some big names to live up to. Needless to say I was prepared for awesomeness and at the start I got it. It was hard not to like Celeana at the start. She was smart and bitchy and acted exactly like I would have expected an A grade assassin to act after being stuck in the prison. She bigged herself up and given her attitude, I could totally believe the reputation. Perhaps, if she’d stayed that way for the entire novel I would have enjoyed Throne of Glass a lot more. As it happens, she began to slip for me for countless reasons.

One the attitude stayed. There were many times when we were heard about how amazing Celeana was but it wasn’t showcased until towards the end of the trials. Furthermore she’s obsessed with books! I’ve got nothing against books, I love books and bookworm characters. But when a tough hard-ass assassin who is training for a life or death competition the next day chooses to stay up all night reading instead, I can’t help but feel a little disbelief. Not to mention the fact that she appears to sleep through almost every time someone enters her bedroom. She even slept through the Crown Prince (who I imagine can’t be the quietest) sneaking into her room to leave a pile of chocolate and sweets on her bed. What sort of assassin wouldn’t wake up to that? Surely the greatest assassin in the world wouldn’t sleep through what could have been a potential murder attempt, especially with everything that was going on. There’s also the fact that most of the time she is complaining about her clothes, about the fact that she wasn’t invited to balls and, most importantly, the fact that the guy didn’t joke with her like someone else, so he must find her unattractive. After spending a year trapped in a salt mine, I assumed she would have had more important things to worry about like the impending competition and trials that she had to complete to in order to ensure she didn’t get sent back there?

Then there was a love triangle. Love triangles are the bane of my existence, and it was just my luck that there was one in Throne of Glass as well. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one either. Chaol I don’t mind. Chaol was calm, respectable and their relationship seemed a lot more realistic. From the get go he was suspicious and careful around her as one should be with the most feared assassin the Crown Prince takes an entirely different route. Chaol and Celeana’s relationship is a slow build but for me Dorian and Celeana’s seemed to much like instalove. From the get go they are flirting and she’s batting her eyelashes and getting things out of him. Not to mention all of the eye glances. And don’t mention the ending of all this to me because we all know what’s going to happen next.

Also what the hell is up with the glass castle? It was barely touched upon at all, it was just a random castle made out of glass thrown in there. Not to mention that the book is named Throne of Glass but even at this point I have no idea why? I’m assuming it has something to do with the glass castle but I’m not sure.

My main issue was that this book seemed more romance and playing princess that it actually did fantasy. When we got to the actual plot though (Maas glosses over a fair bit of the competition in my opinion) I really enjoyed it. The bits of the competition I read were entertaining (although perhaps a little benign considering who was competing and what they were competing for) and the fantasy parts may be the reason that I actually continue reading this! I liked reading about the Wyrdmarks and Wyrdgates and I was intrigued by the dark creatures.

Nehemia was also a shining star for me in this one. As a POC character in what I assume was a world of white characters aside from her guards, I was already rooting for her. I love POC characters and while I would prefer more than one as an MC I could handle it. Nehemia was a curious characters. She arrives randomly, without a proper explanation, and instantly befriends Celeana over the assassin’s knowledge of her native language. After that a friendship blooms and it’s one that I enjoyed reading about. The scenes with Nehemia may be some of my favourite and I can’t wait to see what happens with her in later novels.

All in all I’m a bit sceptical about continuing to the rest of the series but I’ve heard those books are better. But I might take a break before I do it. Also, by any chance, (potential spoiler but I don’t know because it’s a guess)

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The Raven King

Title: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 3.5

He was a king. This was the year he was going to die.

Well that’s it.

I’m done.

I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to recover after this series. I just hope that Cursed Child can help me to get over these.

Admittedly out of all these books I feel like this one was the weakest, which was a little sad considering it was the last in the series. But it also had a lot to cover and I think it did an okay job at it. However there were a lot of things that I didn’t enjoy. I swear I was ready to kill Stiefvater by the time I got to the last chapter and I had to read ‘Depending on where you began the story‘ one last time. I love the whole repeated chapter starters. In Once it was quirky and different but in this it just made me want to rip my hair out. The one good thing out of it was that she acknowledged all of her characters, major and minor and I thought that was a really good way to bring the book to a close.

In addition to above, her writing also irritated me in this one. A lot. I didn’t mind it as much in the last books because I loved the effect that it created but in this one it felt like she was trying to hard. Repetition is a great tool at an author’s disposal but it feels like Stiefvater had only just discovered this technique and decided to use it on hyperdrive. There were so many scenes where she repeated herself multiple times for what I assume was to improve the scene but really only irked me. I also felt like this was rushed, way too rushed. There were some good bits but the chase scene, the fight scene, the kiss scenes all seemed to be glossed over in favour of other things and I didn’t really find that interesting after reading three books of build up!

One of the other things that I found annoying was the introduction of a character, who hadn’t only briefly been mentioned before, who suddenly became a main character. Also is he the only POC character in this novel?! Bonus points to Stiefvater for being LGBT friendly but where are all the POC characters? Not to mention everyone who is introduced appears to have some sort of power or magical knowledge. How on Earth was this thing kept under-wraps when everyone seems to know something or someone or have some sort of connection with this entire thing? I found myself looking at new characters wondering what they could do. I was never 100% sure how they were going to but I knew they were going to fit in somewhere.

At least my Raven Boys didn’t let me down! The misfits were still as brilliant as I remembered, or at least some of them were. Ronan was still an idiot and a badass and his friendship with Blue in this one came out of nowhere but I loved it. Their conversations were brilliant and he seemed just like a misleading trouble-loving big brother! Then there was his relationship with Adam, which was also great. I loved watching them working together and trying to figure everything out. However I felt like this forced Blue and Gansey to take a backseat. They didn’t really seem to do much at all this novel except for pursuing their relationship and Gansey attempting to come over his fear, until right at the end.

Also where’s Noah?! He was barely mentioned at all and I missed him! It also felt like he’d been replaced by the new guy, which I really hated 😦

But despite all the bad points I’ve made, I did like this book! I just wasn’t 100% happy with how things turned out. I had a list of things that I wanted when I went into this novel. I wanted them to find Glendower. I wanted Pynch to finally happen. I wanted to find out how Blue’s curse was going to come to a close and I wanted to be happy with the ending. I got 3 out of 4.

Would I still recommend reading this series? Definitely! The ending wasn’t perfect but it was good and I was content with it, there were just a couple of plot holes, which I’m probably going to stick this under a read more because some of these are spoilers. So read ahead at your own peril if you haven’t read the novel yet!:

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Top 5 Gold books

So we know that we did top 5 book covers for this month last week, but when we were coming up with a theme for the top 5, the most obvious choice would be the olympics! And as we haven’t really read many sports-themed books (suggest some if you know some 😉 ) we decided to celebrate Adam Peaty setting a new world record and winning the first gold medal for the UK! Way to go Peaty!!

  1. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is the most obvious choice for gold books as far as we’re concerned. Not only does it look amazing anyway but the gold specks scattered across the cover of this hardback are mesmerising. It’s such a gorgeous book and one of my favourite book covers.
  2. The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne is a bit orange and a bit yellow as well but we love the cover of this colour and it does technically have a bi of gold in there! My favourite thing about this hardback is when you actually ditch the jacket and reveal the golden stamp against the black background of the book. It looks amazing.
  3. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini is the third book in the Inheritance trilogy, which was one of my favourite reads when I was younger. I adored the story of Eragon and though the film didn’t exactly do it justice, Paolini created a magnificent world. I just had to stick Brisingr in here because of that and also because I love the covers in this series and the golden dragon in this one is so majestic!
  4. Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Leviathan So although I haven’t actually read this book or any other books by Leviathan but the cover was gold and sparkly which seemed to be a must for our list. I did read a few reviews of the books and they seemed to be positive.
  5. The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill I love the title of this book, but the reason we picked it was the gold accents on the front cover and it was super pretty. I’m almost tempted to add this to my to read list just because of the cover and title.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Year: 2014
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 4.5

Ronan kept going, his voice louder. “No. Do you hear me, Cabeswater? You promised to keep me safe. Who are we to you? Nothing? If you let him die, that is not keeping me safe. Do you understand? If they die, I die, too.”

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)

THIS BOOK WAS STILL AMAZING. I have no idea how Maggie Stiefvater is doing this. Usually series drop of after a while, or not every book is that great but so far this series has been A+ through every book. I cannot put these down. I cannot tear my eyes away from the page and at 2am when I finished a chapter and complained to Paige that I had work in the morning, I still found myself turning the page and continuing. I just had to find out what happened!

That was probably the worst idea to be honest because this book took such a dark turn, I thought, and I dread to think what the last one will be like (but I’m still definitely going to be reading it).I thought that the Night Terror was scary, but everything takes on an even creepier level of frightening in this one and I wasn’t prepared. But it was still so so good! After the reveal of Ronan’s abilities in the first novel and then the development in the second novel, reading about his magic in this one is beyond amazing. Learning about him honing them in the second book was so interesting but seeing his ease at which he controls his dream world now is unbelievable.

Again I felt like this book dragged a little bit and the introduction of enemies at the start of a book and then vanquishing them or turning at the end is feeling much to comic book for me. But other than that I had nothing bad to say about this novel.

In fact I have a lot of good to say, such as the character development is unreal! I thought that we had discovered all that could be discovered in the last one, but then Stiefvater threw a whole lot more mystery and surprises at me and I was floored by it. It’s all starting to add up though and I’m so terribly excited for the last book! There were times when I was reading and things would click into the first place and I would wonder how on Earth I had been so oblivious to these developments in the first place. Surely it was obvious that that would happen and why didn’t I realise that that happened so that they could do that? IT WAS SO GOOD.

Then there’s the relationships, the relationships! Because Pynch is so close that I can almost reach out and touch them but they’re just not there and it’s like hell waiting for them to finally click. But it’s so good at the same time because it’s slow and building and we get to see them watching at each other and testing the waters and watch it all building. And the dam is so close to breaking! Not to mention Blue and Gansey who are still not my favourite but are growing on me with their late night phone calls about birds and the devil’s number and it’s terrible and brilliant at the same time. One relationship I didn’t expect to like was Piper and Colin because they were so evil but they were just so terribly perfect for each other. They were both so bad that they worked and some of their conversations were hilarious.

Part of me also feels like I should mention the psychics because there were a lot of developments for them in this one and gosh I never expected some of the things that happened to happened. There were a lot of surprises in this one, don’t get me wrong, but that one just- I had to stop and put the book down for a moment. I couldn’t believe it.

There’s so much I want to say about this novel but so much that I could give away by accident. If you haven’t read this series yet, please please please start it. Then come and fangirl about Pynch with me.

The Dream Thieves

Title: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Year: 2013
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 5

And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) review

I JUST CAN’T WITH THIS SERIES. I thought that the first book was amazing and within minutes of turning that last page I was scrambling to order the rest so that I could continue reading. Then I read this one and how is it even possible that this was better than the first? How? Everything I hated in the first book (namely Ronan and how useless and annoying he was) literally turned on head and showed me just how wrong I’d been. And boy was I wrong! Trust me no one is more surprised with me that I actually like this stupid idiot but this was the book that I fell for Ronan Lynch and I’m now clinging onto him for dear life as my fingers inch towards the next book. How is it possible to care this much about a character?

But enough about Ronan. This book was almost everything that I wanted it to be but at times I felt like it was dragging it’s feet to stop getting to the actual plot. One of the things I did realise shortly after going into these books was that the entire series takes space over a year. That’s about 3 months per book, which could be a lot of time but given book terms isn’t really that long at all. So yes, I did feel like this book dragged a bit but that might just be because I was mainly in it for the Glendower plot and there wasn’t much of that in this.

What there was a lot of was character development. There was a heck of a lot of that. There were so many gasp moments when you discover things about the characters and so many moments where I just had to sit back and take in what I’d just read because it was so beautifully thought out and it just took that last push for all the dots to join together and it was so fricking well-thought out. I didn’t even see it coming until it happened and then it seemed so obvious! Stiefvater is so good at this thing, man. These characters were like a mystery onion with so many layers of secrets and lies and discoveries about themselves! I have no idea where half of these things are leading to but I have my ideas and I pray that some of them come true!

Also in my last review for this series I said I wasn’t a fan of love stories and that I was pleased when Stiefvater didn’t really involve romance in her book (despite the blurb). Then I read this one and I’m on the train, I’m on all the ship trains! Stiefvater manages to write so many amazing relationships without them even needing to kiss and I’m just reading all of them and they’re so amazing. And Ronan is so so so subtle and I love him for it! This had to be one of my favourite quotes:

She wore a dress Ronan thought looked like a lampshade. Whatever sort of lamp it belonged on, Gansey clearly wished he had one.
Ronan wasn’t a fan of lamps.

And after that my ships were sailing. I’m so invested in these books. I’m invested in Gansey finding his Glendower and Ronan finding himself and Blue saving her true love and Adam getting to the person that he wants to be and Noah finally being able to look at all of his group and finally being at ease enough to take the next step. This series has gotten me hooked and I am literally picking up the next book now to start reading and see what happens to his bunch of misfits!

P.S Where’s Nevee? I expected her to come back but she’s still MIA. I’m sure she’s going to come back and mess things up.

I See You

Title: I See You
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Thriller | Mystery | Crime
Rating: 5

It doesn’t matter how fast. Because there’s always someone who can run faster.

I just had to pre-order this one when I heard that Mackintosh was releasing her second book and I am so so glad that I did. I admit that I was on the I Let You Go train and I can understand why it was the crime novel of the year last year but, personally, I think that I See You was even better. I admit that when I first heard about it I was a tad worried that the second book wouldn’t live up to the first but I actually found this book really good. If you were thinking the same thing, then you have nothing to worry about! Panic over!

It’s probably a good idea to start by saying that I’m not a commuter. However this did nothing to impact my reaction to the novel. In fact I ended up putting it down one night in fear of triggering bad dreams. I See You was definitely creepy and at 1am I didn’t think it was a good idea to keep going. Having said that I devoured the rest of it the next morning and the only reason it’s taken me this long to write the review is because I don’t know just how to sing the praises for this one without giving away too much of the plot! 

Although it mainly focuses on commuters I can promise you that even if you’re not a commuter you will still get a chill from this. I See You is also about daily routine. It’s about that trip to the shop you take every morning to get the paper or the route where you walk the dog, you know the one – along the river and through the park. It’s about the times where you’re alone. When you’re oblivious. That’s when they’ll come for you. It doesn’t matter to them who you are, what your ethnicity is or even your age. All that matter is your routine. And that you’re alone.

This book was brilliant, perhaps my favourite crime novel of all time. Zoe is such an ordinary character, making her story that more relatable. She’s no one special; she could be anyone that you pass on the street or sit next to on the sub. She could be anyone. She could be you. Then there’s Kelly, who is a bit too independent and brash but can also hold her own when it comes to it. With a hard past that leaves her dragged down by an invisible weight, she’s yet another great character and really adds a little extra to the story.

Altogether I really enjoyed this one. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good crime novel and I know that Paige is going to delve into it soon. Seriously Mackintosh’s writing performs at a high-standard yet again, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

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.