Lord of Shadows – Review!

Hi all!

Today I’m reviewing Lord of Shadows, the second book in The Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare. There will be mild spoilers for Lord of Shadows, and as this is a sequel there will be spoilers for Lady Midnight, so please beware!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

img_1581

My rating: 4.25 stars.

Ohh this book.

Cassandra Clare never fails to deliver brutal cliffhangers, and I think that the ending of Lord of Shadows is the most emotional. I will say now, I don’t think Lord of Shadows is as good as Lady Midnight. That’s not to say it’s a bad book! I adored Lady Midnight, and I loved returning to the Blackthorn family. For me, though, while Lady Midnight was very tightly plotted, Lord of Shadows was a bit more sprawling if that makes sense?

The Characters:

These are always the best parts of any Shadowhunter novel.  The characters in Lord of Shadows just feel so real; it doesn’t feel like you’re reading a book, it feels like you’re following these people as they navigate their lives. Emma is wonderfully refreshing and I love her sense of humour, but I don’t think we perhaps saw as much of her in LoS as we did in Lady Midnight. I love Cristina’s quiet strength, Livvy’s optimism, Ty’s intelligence, Julian’s very Slytherin-y heart. It was also interesting hearing from other perspectives like Kit, Diana, and Dru. I haven’t actually warmed to Dru that much yet, but Kit was so funny at calling out the archaic Shadowhunting world, and Diana’s story is so important. I love that Clare has such varied and realistic characters!

While it was nice to see recurring characters from The Mortal Instruments, it was a little jarring and it took a while to get used to. However, once it became clear that they weren’t meaningless cameos but actually contributed to the overall plot I was so impressed with Cassandra Clare’s storytelling!

‘We get used to living one way, even if it’s a bad way or a hard one. When that’s gone, there’s a hole to fill. It’s in our nature to try to fill it with anxieties and fears. It can take time to fill it with good things instead.’ 

The Relationships:

I do love Emma and Julian, and there were some moments in Lord of Shadows that was beautiful. I feel like we really got to see how well-suited they are and how good they could be together, especially when they were in Malcolm’s cottage. I was relieved that the whole Mark-and-Emma thing was resolved quickly, too. The Mark-Cristina-Kieran love triangle honestly stressed me out because I CAN’T DECIDE WHICH SIDE I PREFER. Normally I have some sort of idea (In The Infernal Devices I was firmly Team Will) but this time I am so undecided. However, my favourite relationship in LoS was one that hasn’t necessarily happened yet – Kit and Ty! I just love how in Kit’s chapters there are so many times when he’s protective over Ty, and how he listens and understands Ty. And he’s definitely going to be needed after that ending.

‘Break my heart,’ he said. ‘Break it in pieces, I give you permission.’

 

The Plot:

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

This is why I like Lord of Shadows less than Lady Midnight. The plot is fantastically complex, and the amount of thought and detail put into every plot point is astonishing. However, there was a lot of moving about in this book and it’s perhaps a bit too complicated. I do think this was partly because of how I read it, as I had two very busy weeks and had to put the book down a lot. That being said, I loved how involved we were in the different Faery societies and it was so interesting finding out about how the Cold Peace has affected the Seelies as well as the Shadowhunters.

Another aspect of the plot that I loved was the arrival of the Cohort.  To read something that so clearly reflects parts of society today was chilling, and the way that Zara (I HATE ZARA!) and her followers truly believed in the hatred that they were trying to achieve was terrifying.

‘When a decision like that is made by a government, it emboldens those who are already prejudiced to speak their deepest thoughts of hate. They assume they are simply brave enough to say what everyone really thinks.’ 

The Ending:

This deserves its own section of the review because WHAT WAS THAT ENDING. Let me set the scene: I was trying to finish Lord of Shadows before the end of August. It was about half past midnight, and I only had about two chapters left, so I decided to carry on.

This was a mistake!

That ending was just utterly heart-breaking. The deaths were – obviously – devastating, especially Livvy (I had this big theory that Julian or Emma would die and the other would use necromancy in the last book – and I was completely wrong!). But what was more heart-wrenching, I think, was that this plan that our team had worked and worked on, that they had put all their hopes on, that would save Emma and Julian and the Downworlders – that this plan could have gone so catastrophically wrong. And there are even bigger problems on the horizon – Warlocks losing magic? A new Inquistor needed (Please say it won’t be Dearborn!)? The Unseelie King getting rid of Shadowhunter magic?? There are so many unanswered questions!!

‘There is truth in stories,’ said Arthur. ‘There is truth in one of your paintings, boy, or in a sunset or a couplet from Homer. Fiction is truth, even if it is not fact. If you believe only in facts and forget stories, your brain will live, but your heart will die.’ 

 

 

What did you think of Lord of Shadows? Are you excited for Queen of Air and Darkness? (I’m not looking forward to the year long wait!) Who’s your favourite character in TDA?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Advertisements

Bone Gap Review – Magic, Mystery, and Morals

Hi all!

Today I’m reviewing Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. I’ve been seeing lots of praise for this book, and for the most part I think it lived up to the hype. Ruby created an atmosphere as vivid and mystical as the cover – which honestly is so beautiful, this was a bit of a cover buy! – in the small town of Bone Gap, and some of the messages she conveyed were very powerful.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

My rating: 4 stars.

The Characters:

The characters are often what makes or breaks a novel for me, but I absolutely adored the main protagonist, Finn! He was kind, tried his best (even if it didn’t always work), and he STOPPED TRAFFIC FOR DUCKLINGS. Is that not the cutest thing you’ve ever heard? The only problem was, I didn’t warm to Sean much at all. I know we’re meant to feel sorry for him, and I did, but he was a little unlikable. 

Roza, on the other hand, was fantastic. There were so many important messages in each of her chapters which just made my heart sing. ‘ “She’s her own girl.” ‘ It was also really interesting to learn about her family and life in Poland (and all the food, which sounded delicious!), and I just loved her strength. It took me a while to warm to Petey, and I did think without the chapters from her perspective I wouldn’t have liked her. However, over time I did see how her character was important, and that appearances and reputations are never the same as reality.

The Plot:

The plot of Bone Gap  was really engaging! Throughout the novel there is the mystery of where and why Roza disappeared, but as the story progresses there’s also a romance developing (which was so cute!!), a family rift, the puzzling Charlie Valentine…Ruby manages to tie everything together wonderfully, and I was satisfied with the ending. My only problem is that it felt like there were a few things that could have been explained or wrapped up more solidly; however I think this was just because of the genre, as magical realism is more open-ended than a contemporary.

The Setting:

This was something that Ruby excelled at. Coming from a small town myself (seriously, I could walk the length of it in five minutes!), I loved the gossip of the people of Bone Gap, and it was a refreshing change for a Young Adult novel to be set in the countryside! Also I don’t know if this is a setting or character point, but there are loads of animals in this novel and I loved it so much, can someone please get me a Calamity Jane? (I mean, I technically can’t have a pet at university but I’ll work around it).

Final Thoughts:

If you’re looking for a town that teeters on the edge of the magic and normality in the world, strong women that don’t let other people bring them down, and a darling of a protagonist, then Bone Gap is for you! There were some downsides and I didn’t adore it as much as I thought I would, but this was still an enjoyable book unlike anything I’ve read before.

Have you read Bone Gap? What did you think of it? Do you have any other magical realism books I should read? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Queen of Shadows – Review!

Hi all!

I finished Queen of Shadows a few days ago, and it was EPIC. I know now why everyone loves this series! I’ve heard that this is the book that divides people; you either love it or you hate it. Personally this and Crown of Midnight (the first half anyway) are my favourites in the series, and I would say that if you weren’t too keen on Heir of Fire you might like Queen of Shadows more. I don’t know what it was with this book. I don’t know why I loved this book so much more than the others – but I did. My review will have minor spoilers in it but I don’t reveal any major plot points or characters.
So in case you didn’t know, Queen of Shadows is the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, which means I can’t really say anything about the plot without spoilers, except that Aelin kicks ass as usual and the plot is pretty explosive!

The characters: I will admit that the Rowan in this book felt completely different to the Rowan in
Heir of Fire, but his character changed for the better so I actually finally liked him! The same goes to Aelin – I FINALLY LIKE HER GUYS. (It’s only taken me four books but shhh). Manon continues to be a badass witch, and I loved how we got to see more of Asterin, Sorrel and the Thirteen. The new characters like Nesryn and Elide were really great too, and Dorian broke my heart in Queen of Shadows!

And then there’s Chaol. For those of you who don’t know, he is basically my favourite character in this series. As in I love him a lot and worry about his safety. He’s complicated, tries to do what he thinks is right, and cares so much about Dorian. They’re friendship is one of my favourite things in the books. Before reading Queen of Shadows I read a few reviews, and they were negative about what happened towards him, so I was worried. I have to admit that the chapters in the start were a bit rough on my still recovering Chaoleana heart, but by the end of the book I was happy with how the plot played out (although the ending broke my heart!).

The Plot: I couldn’t not read this book, that was how riveting the plot was. Sarah J Maas linked everything together and foreshadowed events beautifully, and I loved what happened. I liked how Manon’s story finally linked in with the rest of the crew (or Aelin’s Squad as my friend calls them!) and Elide’s subplot was really interesting. The results of the events in Queen of Shadows are definitely going to have repercussions in Empire of Storms, and I’m both nervous and looking forward to seeing what happens next.

The Writing: As usual, Sarah J Maas’s writing style draws you in and doesn’t let you go! There was only two really minor things that bugged me – that everything Aelin does is with ‘feline grace’ and that there was a lot of ‘incarnates’  in there. But these were minor issues that didn’t stop me from enjoying the story.

Overall, I am really excited to see what happens in Empire of Storms and I am so pleased that I loved this book!

The Unexpected Everything – Review

Title: The Unexpected Everything
Author: Morgan Matson
Synopsis: Andie Walker has everything in her life planned out, until one event throws her entire summer schedule out the window. With a group of loyal friends, more than a few dogs, and a shy writer, Andie starts to learn that sometimes it’s better to go with the flow, but at the end of the summer will she go back to her old ways?
Rating: 4 stars.

As always, Morgan Matson delivers a sunny summer contemporary perfect for long lazy days reading! Overall, I did enjoy this book, but I did have some problems with it, especially as I enjoyed Since You’ve Been Gone and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour so much. This review may have little spoilers in them, but I’ve tried to make it as spoiler-free as possible!

Andie’s character development in this is something I really enjoyed reading about, and for the most part I liked her as our protagonist. However there was a DECISION – those of you who have read this will know what I’m talking about! – she made that infuriated me, and I didn’t connect with her as much as I wanted to.

One of my favourite aspects of this novel was the friendship. I loved the texting conversations that were included as they felt like a real conversation a group of friends would have! Palmer, Andie, Toby and Bri really were close, and Morgan Matson has captured all of the little details of friendship very well.

And then there’s Clark…oh how I love Clark! He has T-shirts with TV show references on them (I only got one!), a bonkers dog, and he writes! I like how he helped Andie relax and their relationship was so so cute. The sections from his books were another great addition.

Andie’s relationship with her father was something that really sets this book apart. I like how they were working together to improve things, and the gradual change throughout summer was really sweet to read.

HOWEVER! I did have problems with this book. For one thing, I felt it was too long and in the beginning I felt myself get a bit distracted. As well as this, I was not a fan of the plot twist as it didn’t feel very realistic to me and went against the values of friendship that ran throughout the rest of the book.

All in all, The Unexpected  Everything was a good summery read, but I would recommend Morgan Matson’s other books if you’ve never read any of hers before. Especially Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – that is one of my favourite contemporary books!

Let me know what you thought of The Unexpected Everything in the comments!
Thanks for reading(:

5 Reasons to Read The Diviners series!

Hi all!

I finished Lair of Dreams over the weekend – at twenty past midnight, desperately trying to finish it
before my Audible free trial ran out – and it has become one of my favourite reads of 2016. I already want to reread it again! But it feels like hardly anyone has read The Diviners, so I thought I would give you some reasons why you absolutely should dive into this series!


1. The writing – Libba Bray’s writing style is wonderful and enthralling. There wasn’t a single point
where my attention wavered, and the way she describes things is both unique and clear. She weaves so many characters’ stories together until they all join up at the end, which is something I love, and although I didn’t find The Diviners particularly scary, I did find Lair of Dreams very, very creepy!

2. The setting – The Diviners takes place in 1920s New York, which to be honest was enough for me to be interested! But it isn’t just set in New York; when you read the series you become immersed in the characters’ worlds. I could easily imagine myself at the Follies or the Museum, and I love how Libba Bray uses just enough 1920s slang for it to be believable without it being over the top, so it felt like natural speech when someone said ‘jake’ or ‘copacetic’.

3. The plot – There is an overarching plot throughout the two novels so far, but it is slow-moving and we find out more about it through the smaller plots of each book. I really like how towards the end of Lair of Dreams I could feel the pace speeding up, and there is a mystery at the heart of the novels which I am desperate for answers to!

4 – The characters – These are really what makes the books for me! I admittedly find Evie – the main main protagonist (there’s a lot of different viewpoints) – a bit annoying, but she feels very human; she’s flawed and makes bad decisions, but at the same time she’s very loyal and compassionate. Each character feels like their own person and I’ve never gotten confused between them, and there’s a lot – Jericho, Sam, Theta, Memphis, Henry, Mabel, and then Ling in Lair of Dreams. They all have strong subplots, too. After reading Lair of Dreams I absolutely adore Henry and his friendship with Ling!

5. The audiobook – I can’t speak for The Diviners as I haven’t listened to it, but the narrator of Lair of Dreams, January LaVoy, was phenomenal! She put on different voices for each character that were consistent throughout, and she even sang the songs in the book! I think I found Lair of Dreams spookier than The Diviners because of how excellent her narration was.

Let me know if I’ve convinced you to read this series! If you’ve already picked up The Diviners, what did you think? Who’s your favourite character? (Mine are Jericho and Henry and Ling and Mabel…basically everyone!)
Thanks for reading (:

The Young Elites – Review

Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Part of a series? The first book in the Young Elites trilogy.
Synopsis: After a disease ravaged Adelina’s home when she was young, she has been treated as an outcast for her whole life. Then, one disastrous event sets her life off onto a completely different path, one that finds her in the middle of The Young Elites, a group of people all like her. As she becomes submerged in political intrigue, assassination plots, and a pleasure court, she begins to embrace the hidden powers inside her. But soon it will become clear that not even Adelina knows what she’s capable of, and that the Young Elites have more enemies than they could imagine.
Rating: 4.25 stars.

When we first meet Adelina, she is in prison for committing a murder. This essentially sets the scene for a powerful, dark story that tests your loyalty to every character!

This is my first book by Marie Lu, and it did not disappoint. The twists and turns throughout the novel kept me hooked, and the twist at the end especially was unexpected. The world was well-developed and reminded me of Venice slightly, though it was slightly confusing with all of the different place names. The descriptions of the catacombs and the Court were particularly good.

As for characters, I didn’t warm to Adelina as much as I would have liked to. I think it was because at
times I would feel sorry for her, but then she would think or say something that just made me question her, and even though that meant I wasn’t as connected to the main character, that was really interesting to read. You never knew if she was the villain or the hero of the story, and this is not something I’ve read much in YA! The rest of the characters were equally well-created, Raffaele being my favourite for how kind he was compared to others. Violetta was innocent, a good contrast to the darkness in Adelina, and I loved their sibling relationship, although her actual character got on my nerves sometimes.. It feels like that was the main relationship in The Young Elites, as to me Enzo and Adelina’s relationship felt a little off. It would have been better if we had read more about Enzo and Daphne’s relationship before, but it was still upsetting to read about how Adelina was betrayed. Enzo was perhaps my least favourite character, although I’m not sure why.

Overall, I am really looking forward to reading The Rose Society and seeing where Adelina and Violetta end up, and I have no idea what could happen! If you love fantasy novels, I would definitely recommend this!
Thanks for reading(:

Fairest – Mini-Review!

Author: Marissa Meyer
Part of a series? The prequel novel to the Lunar Chronicles series.
Synopsis: Long before the events of the Lunar Chronicles, Levana was simply a Princess living in her sister’s shadow. In Fairest, it is revealed how Levana went from that to the terrifying Queen she is now.
Rating: 4.5 stars.

This book was very creepy but very good! The backstory Marissa Meyer came up with is so twisted and brilliant that I completely didn’t expect it, and I was constantly torn between feeling sorry for Levana and feeling horrified by her actions! I would definitely recommend reading this if you’ve already read the Lunar Chronicles as it adds to the world of Luna, as well as Levana’s character.

*SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON!*

Fairest really toyed with my emotions! One moment I was pitying Levana, the pale girl that was always overlooked by her family, the girl who was hurt by her sister, the girl who had no idea what love was. And the next she was killing people and manipulating minds and goodness knows what else!! This book didn’t make me feel completely sorry for her as in the end the things she did were too awful, but it did help me understand her more in a way. Levana is such a wonderful villain, and it was interesting to read about what made her become the way she is in the Lunar Chronicles (which is actually quite similar to the way she is in Fairest).

The world of Luna was explored more in Fairest, and it’s so interesting! I love how fake everything in the court is, but how no one would dream of saying that, and the relationship between Evret and Winter (and SELENE!!!) was lovely to read about. The scenes between the two, and between Winter and Selene added a bit of light relief to an otherwise dark plot. Fairest didn’t just give us a better view of Luna but of some of the characters we know and love already (or will do when Winter comes out!!) : Jacin, Winter, Selene. I can’t wait for Winter to come out!

What were your thoughts on Fairest? Let me know in the comments(:
Thanks for reading(: