Siege & Storm

Title: Siege & Storm (The Grisha #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Indigo
Publication Year: 2013
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Romance
Rating: 3

You are right about one thing, Summoner. The Darkling is a powerul enemy. You might want to think about making some powerful friends.

I don’t. Like. Mal. Any more?

Well, I don’t like the Mal only seems to care about Alina and nothing but Alina. What happened to Mal from the first book who loved his friends and had a passion for tracking and defending Ravka? All he seems to focus on now is being jealous of anyone who even lays eyes on Alina, fighting to get over Alina and doing whatever he can to make himself look better to Alina. It irked me so much and I found him so annoying! In the first book I was seriously enjoying him and his relationship with Alina and in this one they just need to sit down and work things out. But instead all they appear to be doing is butting heads and arguing and not doing anything remotely helpful!  I can only hope that they fix it so that Mal can crawl back into my good favour in the next book because I found him seriously annoying in this one.

In fact, I might go as far as to say that I didn’t really enjoy this book? Okay, that’s a lie. At the beginning I adored the book. It had a serious Six of Crows vibe and while I adored that book, this one quickly fell from the high level that I had placed SoC on. When the Darkling was involved, everything was dangerous and exciting. Then came the vagabond Sturmhond and I adored him. I couldn’t help it! I have a thing for swaggering pirates with an abundance of charm and a smirk to boot. He caught me in seconds and I was in love with him long before I found out who he really was. My only issue was that, after that, Siege & Storm really started to seriously lack any sort of interesting plot. The novel spirals back into that of the first, leaving us in the mind-numbingly boring world of the social elites. Once again Alina’s thoughts turn to beauty and her romance rather than the real impending situation that she should be dealing with.Basically, it felt like it was dragging it’s feet for the majority of the middle of the novel before finally escalating into something interesting in the final quarter.

AND THOSE FINAL FEW CHAPTERS. AAAH.

But moving swiftly on, the one big issue for me in this was the Darkling was MIA for most of it. After the first part, he disappears only to reappear briefly now and then. I found the way that Bardugo did this incredible and I can’t wait to read the explanation for his random appearances in the final instalment! There’s so much about the Darkling’s newfound abilities that I don’t understand and I can’t wait to discover just what has happened to him! Especially considering he’s so much stronger than Alina when she’s got her amplifier. It’s so intriguing and I can’t wait to see how it all develops and if Alina will ever really be strong enough to defeat him!

Hopefully with the aid of our Steampunk!Pirate Privateer Alina will be able to do some damage to his ego! I need to read book 3 like now, to see how this all works out!

Soundless

Title: Soundless
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Fantasy | YA | Dystopian
Rating: 3

Look what we’ve done so far. We’re pretty good at the impossible.”

I’m back and I’m alive and what better way to start my return than to write a review for one of the many books that I read during my travels! That book being Soundless – a book that I received courtesy of Owlcrate.  Soundless is actually a book that I heard about an age ago and is one that I have been dying to read ever since. Not only is it by Richelle Mead (an auto-buy author of mine after Vampire Academy), but the plot also sounds amazing. And so unique! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, so when I spotted it inside that cute little box, well I was ecstatic.

So it became the first book I read on my flight and, sadly, it didn’t live up to the expectations that I had. Maybe I’d built it up too much because of my love for Michelle Read or perhaps I was just expecting more from the plot than every other dystopian novel. Don’t get me wrong, it is an enjoyable novel (see that 3?) but it wasn’t anything special.

I loved the idea because it was something different. It focused on Chinese Folk-Lore. She created a whole new world and not only that but Mead created a whole new world where people didn’t talk! Imagine how hard that was to write! So yes, I loved the concept of Soundless but, with great apologies to Mead, I think that the execution could have been carried out better. My fact is that this shouldn’t be like every other dystopian novel out there, yet it felt like it. Fei’s mountain village could so easily be District 12, if I squinted, and President Snow could easily be the King’s role model for orchestrating all of this, and don’t get me started on Peeta – I mean Li Wei . As a fantasy this could have been amazing, but as a dystopian it just felt repetitive

As for the Chinese Folk Lore, I was really excited for it. I wanted to explore a new genre/theme that I hadn’t read before and then I was presented with this. The only things Chinese about it (as far as I could notice) were the names. I think that Mead missed a huge break with this; she could have slowed the fast-paced romance and focused instead on improving the story behind the plot. That would have, in my opinion, improved the book.

A final sour point for me was the lack of explanation. While some bits, like the King’s motivation, are easy to get at, I feel like other bits could have been better explained. Like Fei’s sudden capability to hear. This wasn’t explained when everything else was and I feel like it’s a key part to the plot- something that we need to know.

Other than these points this book was okay. There’s lots of room for improvement and while I did enjoy it, I’ll personally be waiting for Mead’s next work (The Glittering Court).

The Silent Ones

Author: Ali Knight
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Murder Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | YA
Rating: 3.5

“Grief twisted people into shapes they wouldn’t recognise, made them do things they could never have imagined.”

This started so well and ended so badly, or at least for me it did. I loved the idea of the plot originally. I thought that Olivia killing his sister and Darren opting to work at the hospital in an attempt to find out where her body was worked really well. It was so different from any other YA books that I’ve read and I was impressed with the way it started to unfold. The chance meetings with Olivia were planned well and his reluctance to talk to her and the desperation to do so was so realistic. His character represented the troubled tween well, both from the stupid spur of the moment decisions he made as well as his response to his mum’s cancer and all the scenarios that unfolded around him.

But the real winner of a character for me was Olivia. Perhaps I’m just drawn to the dark personality types because I loved the Stranger in Sarah Lynn Scheerger Are You Still There and I felt like Olivia was similar to that. There were times when she gave information and times when she gave no information at all. I liked that she had a sense of how much power she had and how she manipulated it and I enjoyed all of the scenes with her in purely because of the way she acted.

It was shaping up to be a really great book. Until the twist at the end ruined it for me. I wasn’t a fan of it honestly. I was loving the plot with the missing sister and Darren’s need to find her. So when the twist turned everything pear-shaped I wasn’t really impressed. It seemed to come out of nowhere with no foreshadowing really, excluding maybe one or two things that aren’t really related but could be counted as hints if you squinted hard. There was just nothing backing it up so it was unexpected and weak, I thought.

Despite that it was a good book. It was a nice, easy read and the plot was easy to follow. I managed to read about 60% in one sitting before I had to force myself to head to bed. The next morning I couldn’t stop singing praises about this amazing new book I had read and then I finished the novel the next night and it was a much tougher read than the night before.

I wasn’t a fan of the ending and I think this would have been a much higher rating if things had worked out differently.

I received this in return for an honest review from Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton. Thank you for this opportunity.

Ways to Live Forever

Author: Sally Nicholls
Publisher: Scholastic UK
Publication Year: 2008
Genre: YA | Contemporary
Rating: 4

‘There’s no point in inventing devils to be sacred of,’ said Granny, very sternly. ‘We’ve enough real thing to worry about without making up more for ourselves.’”

When I didn’t cry at, or particularly enjoy, the Fault in our Stars one of my friends recommended me this book to read instead. ‘It’s emotional’ she had promised me and when I first purchased it and took a flick through the middle pages, I wasn’t really sure how true that statement was. At first glance it appeared to be a clutter of bad drawings and lots of lists and pictures of clouds and I really wasn’t sure how impressed I was going to be.

And then I started it and I knew before I’d even started chapter one that this book was going to get me.

I can safely say now that I didn’t cry. I came close though. Ways to Live Forever is 200 pages of words written by a loveable little boy who you know after the first sentence is going to die by the end of the novel. I promise you, that despite all your efforts it will be hard for you not to feel something for the little hero. Sam’s writing is heartbreaking, his story is painful and after turning the page, I couldn’t help but wonder why I’d even picked up this book in the first place when I’d known that this was going to happen.

But the book is beautiful. The words and the story are definitely something to be enjoyed, even with the bad drawings and the lists. I think that a lot of the characters could use a bit more depth, especially Sam’s sister Ella who appeared to just be there most of the time rather than doing anything for the plot. But at the same time it is a ‘little boy’ writing this so it’s understandable why there’s not a lot of depth given to these characters who he’s known all of his life. I loved Felix as well. I adored the stories that Sam told about his time with Felix, but to me Felix was a dead ringer for Augustus Waters. Despite being many years younger, the two characters seemed similar in many ways, and that bugged me.

There are going to be a lot of sad moments if you are ever brave enough to read this. There are times where your heart will break and you’ll have to be prepared to spill a tear or two if you’re going to read this all in one swoop. But it’s such a good read and despite the seriousness of the plot, Nicholls manages to make it entertaining as well. I would recommend this one, without a doubt.

Emmy & Oliver

Author: Robin Benway
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK Children's
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Romance | YA
Rating: 4.5

“We stayed and looked and waited for him to come back, as if you love was a beacon that he could use to light his way home, to crawl up the sides of the earth and back through his front door, his tag still sticking up in the back.”

I didn’t believe that it was possible to fall in love in a day, let alone in less than an hour, but Emmy & Oliver proved me completely wrong. Emmy and Oliver is one of the best YA contemporaries I’ve ever read. It manages to be a romance novel while not focusing entirely on the subject of romance like most do. In fact for the first half of the novel, there is I’d say very little romance. Instead you are treated to the unfolding of a strong friendship that feels genuine. There are arguments and disagreements, happy times and inside jokes and all of the building blocks of a real life friendship that a lot of novels miss.

Within the first three chapters, I was rooting for all of the characters and that was probably one of the many reasons I enjoyed the novel so much. The characters were so relatable and three-dimensional. They had faults and weren’t perfect and they were believable. The friendships were amazing as well. The threesome formed by Drew, Caro and Emmy quickly became my new Golden Trio. It was so easy to see the years behind their friendship, through the secrets that they kept and the hobbies that they had together. As readers we could see the struggles that they went through and how they supported one and another through everything that had happened.

Their reaction to Oliver returning was perfect as well. It was an instantaneous click back into their old friendship. Their were awkward moments and blocks of silence and an unfamiliarity with one and another that could definitely be expected. The growth into the relationship was nice and slow as well. As I said earlier, the first half of the novel doesn’t feature much romance at all. In fact it’s made up almost completely of budding friendships and family and all of the good things that you need to spark a strong relationship, really.

There are so many good things about this novel; so many parts of it were emotional and interesting and it’s definitely not forgettable! If not the characters, then the plot definitely makes this a book that won’t be far from your mind. It handles such a heavy subject but does it delicately. There are definitely lots of spots for shedding a few tears but this is definitely an enjoyable read! Perfect for the summer sun that is heading our way!

I received this in return for an honest review from Netgalley and Hachette. Thank you for this opportunity.