MARKED IN FLESH by Anne Bishop is the fourth book in The Others series. This book continues the story of Meg Corbyn and the residents of the Lakeside Courtyard. Unrest caused by a radical group of humans who seek to control land belonging to the Others attracts dangerous attention that could cause trouble for everyone.
This is one of the books I have been most looking forward to getting my hands on this year, and I can honestly say that it does not disappoint. MARKED IN FLESH is everything I have come to expect from a book in The Others series. There is a lot of tension in this novel both visible and below the surface, that made me want to turn the page so I could find out what was going to happen next. A lot happens in this book, but that is part of the fun and I found it easy to keep track of what was going on with whom. I think that this book really marks a turning point in the series; as you can guess from the blurb lines are drawn in the sand, and there are consequences for everyone to face. This book blew me away, and I think this may be my favourite book in the series so far.
Bishop really cracks up the tension in this book, by contrast the events in the previous three books have been little niggles. The basic plot is pretty similar to the previous books, just amped up, so if you’ve enjoyed how the series has been handled so far then you will appreciate this one too. Although I had a general guess about how things were going to go from the blurb, Bishop surprised me a couple of times which I enjoyed. And the end of the book has me looking forward to the fifth book in this series.
As with the previous books in this series, the story is narrated on the third person and the narrative focuses mainly on Meg, but Bishop does give a broader view of events by also giving peeks into what is going on with other characters including the bad guys. I thought that the split focus of the narrative really worked well in this book, as the multi-focus allowed Bishop to paint a much broader picture of events going on in the world of The Others than just focusing on Meg or the Lakeside Courtyard would allow.
Although there were times when Meg felt a little flat to me – though I can’t pin point why – I really enjoyed following her journey through the book. Watching her struggle to deal with certain things but push forward and do things regardless was inspiring to read. I really enjoyed the way Bishop wrote her characters – human and Other – and the way they came alive on the page. Her characters really made the story believable, and the clash of cultures understandable. The strangeness of the Others was particularly on point for me, especially in relation to their understanding of human behaviour.
Overall I think that MARKED IN FLESH was a wonderful addition to The Others series. As I have said before, if you are a fan of this series then it will not disappoint you.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS by Alan Dean Foster is the seventh book in the Star Wars: Novelizations series. It is the start of a new saga within the Star Wars universe, and is based on the events of the film. The story begins years after the events of Return of the Jedi with the return of some familiar faces, as well as the introduction of some new characters.
This is not typically a book I would pick up, but I really enjoyed the film on which this book is based and I heard that the book provided some extra details. Intrigued, I picked this book up and decided to give it a try. I prefer the film rendition, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed this book. It does provide some information that I didn’t get from the film, as well as a few new scenes, and I think it really helps to gain more insight into the events and characters of the film. As far as general storytelling goes, I found the book to be a quick fun read. I did find it difficult to connect to the characters, but I did also really enjoy the story.
If you’ve watched the film, then you will not be surprised by the events of this book. Foster stays pretty close to the films storyline, and only occasionally adds an extra scene to give context to the narrative. I really appreciated the extra detail to the story, as it answered a few questions I had from the film – which is why I wanted to read the book. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS plot wise is exactly what I would expect from a book (or film) in this saga. There’s mystery, and intrigue and some bursts of humour to break up the tension. Foster does a good job setting the stage, and introducing new characters in this book.
In this book we are introduced to five new main characters, all of whom I thought were quite interesting. Rey is a nice, strong female lead that can take care of herself. Poe seems very competent. Finn is an interesting character who grows a lot through the book. Kylo Ren and Hux were complex characters, and I actually preferred the Kylo Ren of the book to that of the film simply because in this format it is easier to get inside his head. Then of course there is the return of some familiar faces, which I really enjoyed.
Overall, I think STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS by Alan Dean Foster is a nice solid book. Although the plot of the book is pretty much the same as the film, so if you read/watch one first you spoil the other, I do think that is a good addition to the series.
Originally posted on TheFlutterbyRoom.
HIDDEN HUNTRESS by Danielle L. Jensen is the second book in the Malediction Trilogy. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus and is beyond the reach of its inhabitants, both good and bad. She has moved to live with her mother in Trianon and has started to fulfil her childhood dreams. However, she misses and worries about her friends in Trollus, so she decides to search for Anushka and find out more about the curse that keeps the trolls trapped.
This is just what I wanted from a follow up book to the fantastic STOLEN SONGBIRD. It was a really engrossing read, and there was a lot going on but I didn’t ever feel overwhelmed. Once I started reading I found that I just devoured chapters almost without realising it. I really liked the way both Cécile and Tristan grew through this book as individuals. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I will say that I thought Tristan and Cécile were older than they are – I’m not sure why I felt they were early twenties rather than late teens, but I did and when Tristan’s age was mentioned it shocked me – but I can’t say it really added (or took away) anything from the story.
The events of HIDDEN HUNTRESS take place months after the events of STOLEN SONGBIRD, with Cécile ensconced in Trianon under the direction of her mother. As such the plot of the book focuses on the fallout of the events at the end of STOLEN SONGBIRD, with Cécile trying to do what no one has done before and locate the witch Anushka. I thought Jensen handled the search of Anushka and the revelations that involved very well. I found it to be an interesting read, and although I wasn’t surprised I did think Jensen did a great job at keeping the suspense going. I also thought that Jensen handled the events within Trollus brilliantly, and it was an interesting contrast to the search for Anushka.
The blurb may focus on Cécile, but the book itself focuses equally on both Cécile and Tristan with the beginning of each chapter indicating on who it is focusing. The dual first person narrative also worked well for me, as I enjoyed getting to see the different plot threads up close and through different perspectives. I think this really helped to carry the story forward, and to keep me turning the pages.
I thought Cécile was a really compelling character, and I liked the fact that she didn’t hide her emotions. She seemed very grown up, and was very sure of her feelings even when tested. I also thought she was very brave in this chapter, even when faced with difficult choices. I really enjoyed the way Jensen wrote her friendships with Sabine and Chris, they seemed really close. Tristan seemed less remote than he did in STOLEN SONGBIRD, and as such I felt it was a lot easier to empathise with him. There were a lot of secondary characters in this book, both familiar and note, and I think on the whole Jensen did a good job making them believable.
Overall I think HIDDEN HUNTRESS is a brilliant addition to the Malediction Trilogy; it is a really strong second book, and it pulls the story to new dramatic heights, leading me to be looking forward to the final book. If you have enjoyed the previous book then I highly recommend that you continue on the series with this book.
Originally posted on TheFlutterbyRoom.
THRONE OF JADE by Naomi Novik is the second book in her fantastic Temeraire series. The book continues the stories of Captain Will Laurence and the dragon Temeraire. Having settled into life with the British Aerial Corps, Captain Laurence and Temeraire’s lives are disrupted when the Chinese demand the return of their Celestial dragon. As the British government cannot afford to refuse them Temeraire and Captain Laurence are forced to journey to China to find out what future awaits them.
Having loved TEMERAIRE so much I was a little apprehensive about reading the next book in the series, THRONE OF JADE. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed: THRONE OF JADE totally lived up to my expectations. It has been a while since I read TEMERAIRE, but I found it really easy to fall back into the world and I remembered the events of the world clearly enough to have an idea of what was going on. One of my favourite things about this book, and the series so far, is how Novik writes the friendship between Laurence and Temeraire. I also really enjoyed what I saw of a China where dragons were ordinary – it was really interesting to see it in contrast to how dragons are viewed in Britain.
As I mentioned in the paragraph above, one of my favourite things about this book is the friendship between Temeraire and Laurence. Temeraire is delightfully curious about the world around him, and he offers a different view point from Laurence. Laurence by contrast is a much more laidback characters, and is very much a product of his social status and the place he grew up. By setting THRONE OF JADE in China Novik took both characters out of their comfort zones and allowed us to view them on a more equal footing. Novik also does a fantastic job with the secondary characters. It was nice to see the return of some familiar faces as well as the introduction of some new ones. I would have liked to have seen more of Temeraire’s interactions with the local dragons so I could have gained more of a picture of what they were like.
The plot of the book was a little slow, but I still found the story to be immersive and very readable. A lot of THRONE OF JADE is spent aboard a ship, and I liked the fact that Novik made the plot reflect this – most of the book covers the journey down to China. Like TEMERAIRE, there are political overtones to the plot and there’s a very definite colonial feel to the narrative, which makes sense because of the alternative history setting. As I mentioned earlier, it was really interesting to see how Novik painted China in contrast to Britain, and I thought the differences in their approach to dragons was interesting.
Overall THRONE OF JADE is a brilliant addition to the Temeraire series, and if you are a fan of alternative history and like dragons then I recommend that you check the series out.
Originally posted on The FlutterbyRoom.
BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE by Maggie Stiefvater is the third instalment of the fantastic The Raven Cycle; it is the penultimate book in the quartet. Blue Sargent and her Raven Boys – Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah – are still searching for Glendower, but the consequences of events in THE DREAM THIEVES, the second book in the cycle, play out in this book.
It has been a while since I read THE DREAM THIEVES and even longer since I read THE RAVEN BOYS, but I found it easy and familiar to sink back into the world of The Raven Cycle. Stiefvater does it again with this book; the story is engrossing and the characters are compelling, and I desperately want to know what the final book – THE RAVEN KING – will bring. BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE is everything I expected from the third book in this series. The story is a delightfully dark urban fantasy, and despite its length a quick read: after a bit of a slow start, once I picked up the book I just wanted to know what was going to happen next. If you have enjoyed this series so far, then you are definitely going to love this part too.
Blue Sargent is my favourite character in this book, and the series as a whole, and in this book we get to learn a little bit more about her. Gansey is still obsessed with finding Glendower, but he’s grown as the series has progressed – and the same is true in this book too. Ronan, Adam and Noah all came into their powers in THE DREAM THIEVES, and in this book we see the consequences of that. Ronan and Adam in particular still revolve around their friendship with Gansey, and he is in many ways the centre of this book. I really enjoyed the way Stiefvater wrote the friendships between Blue and her Raven Boys, I think that is why I enjoy this series so much. Stiefvater also does a fantastic job with the secondary characters, and I really enjoyed the appearance of Malory.
Stiefvater weaves the plot of BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE brilliantly. There is the definite feel to the story of magic and mystery, and of old powers waking up. Like the rest of the series, the main plot of this book focuses on the hunt for Glendower but there is also an assortment of subplots weaving through the narrative. I found it easy to keep track of the story, although having said that I did find some of the jumps to different characters and events at the start of new chapters to be disconcerting. Despite this, I thought the story flowed quite well and was very readable.
BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE is a great addition to The Raven Cycle. If you are a fan of a quite dark urban fantasy – whether in the young adult genre or not – then if you haven’t you should definitely considering checking this series out. Stiefvater does a fantastic job with the world and its characters, and I cannot wait to pick up the fourth and final book.
Originally posted on TheFlutterbyRoom.
REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton is the first book in a new trilogy. It tells the story of Amani Al’Hiza an orphan who lives in a dead end town, where she is beholden to her uncle. Amani dreams of escaping the place she was born, of being able to see the places she has only ever heard about in stories. And this time she might just have a chance to escape.
I really enjoyed REBEL OF THE SANDS. If you are looking for a non-traditional fantasy with the feeling of ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, then you should definitely give this book a try. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and I was intrigued from the first page. It was so easy to fall into the story. Hamilton did a great job with world building and I really enjoyed all the different characters I met. By the time I reached the end of the book I was wondering if it was a standalone novel or not, because on the one hand I want to see more of this world but on the other the story felt pretty complete by the time I reached the end. So I’m happy to know, having checked Goodreads, that there are probably two more books to go. I can’t wait!
REBEL OF THE SANDS is narrated by Amani. I thought she was a good, believable narrator, and I think it worked well in terms of the plot to have the story told directly by her. I’m not always a fan of first person narration, but in this particular case I thought it worked well. I also think Hamilton did a fantastic job telling the story. At no point did I feel like I was being lead, or that there were info dumps. Hamilton did a brilliant job of telling me what I needed to know to understand.
Amani is the narrator and she is also the main character of the story, and I really liked her – which is probably why I enjoyed her as a narrator. I thought she was brave and compelling, and at times a little foolish but I liked that she had flaws. I thought the secondary characters were well written, and seemed real – like they were there for more than just moving the plot along. The story does focus mainly on Amani though, and I enjoyed watching her grow as the book progressed. The other character that I thought was interesting, if a bit flat at times, was the “foreigner with no name”. I particularly enjoyed the interactions between them and Amani, and the effect they had on one another.
I enjoyed the way Hamilton handled the plot of REBEL OF THE SANDS. I thought it was well written and quite compulsive – although I didn’t find it difficult to put the book down, I did fly through the book. This is like the third time I’ve attempted to write this paragraph because I don’t want to spoil anyone, so sorry that this is a bit vague but every time I try and give a little more detail it veers into spoiler territory. It really is worth going into REBEL OF THE SANDS without any real idea, except the blurb, what’s going on.
REBEL OF THE SANDS is a brilliant read, and I am super glad that it’s the first book in a series (but also super bummed I’ve got to wait until 2017 for the next book). If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, but want something a little different then definitely check this book out. Even if you don’t want something a little different you should definitely give this a try, it might surprise you.
This review was originally posted on TheFlutterbyRoom.com
MY NAME IS LEON is the debut novel by Kit de Waal. It tells the story of nine-year-old Leon, in early eighties Britain who ends up living with Maureen when his mum can’t cope after the birth of his baby brother Jake. The story focuses on Leon’s story as he struggles to cope with the changes in his life.
I really liked this book. There were times when I was a bit undecided, but on the whole I really enjoyed de Waal’s story; at times I found the narrative to be a little slow. I appreciated the references to broader events in London in the early 1980s that dotted the narrative – it really helped to cement the feel of the time, and although I grew up a decade later than Leon there was still a bit of familiarity to the narrative. De Waal did a good job of capturing Leon’s love for his sibling, which was very apparent through the narrative. I wish there was more of the book, that we could see more of Leon’s story. Not because the ending was unsatisfying, I actually think it worked very well, but because I want to know more of what happens to this little boy.
MY NAME IS LEON tells the story of Leon after the birth of his younger brother, when things start to fall apart. Leon is an interesting and lonely character. He’s quite bright and is very loyal. His love for his mother and brother was lovely to read about. De Waal does a brilliant job with the secondary characters. Maureen is also an interesting character. I enjoyed watching her relationship with Leon grow as the book progressed. Adults play a large role in this book, which helps emphasise how isolated Leon is, and how little control he has. I enjoyed his easy friendship with Tufty.
The plot of the book is fairly simple, and I think this actually works well. Rather than have a complicated plot, de Waal instead focuses on Leon’s emotional journey through the book. This journey is also mirrored by events in the book. I don’t want to go into too much detail, as always, because of spoilers. I do want to say, however, that I think de Waal told Leon’s story with great skill and it felt realistic. Although there weren’t many surprises in terms of the plot, I still found MY NAME IS LEON to be a gripping read.
If you enjoy contemporary fiction (and I know calling it contemporary is a bit of a stretch seeing as it’s set more than thirty years ago, but I honestly cannot think of a better term and/or genre) with a realistic twist then this very well might be the book for you. MY NAME IS LEON explores familial bonds and what it takes to be a family.
Originally posted on The Flutterby Room. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. You can find the original post here.
SIMON vs. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli is a standalone young adult novel that tells the story of sixteen-year-old Simon Spier. When the book starts Simon is exchanging emails anonymously with someone named Blue, who he forms a connection with. After he forgets to log out of his email account at school these emails fall into the wrong hands and life gets complicated for Simon.
SIMON vs. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA is a brilliant, contemporary novel. Simon’s story was an interesting and intelligent read. I really enjoyed watching events unfold on the page. The story was well paced, and although there were a couple of aspects of the book I wasn’t too keen on, I thought it was a good read. The story was engrossing, and I really wanted to know what happened next. The characters were interesting and seemed very real. I also think that Albertalli wrapped up the story well, and that the whole thing felt finished. I enjoyed the diverse cast, and thought Albertalli painted an interesting image of coming out during high school.
I really liked Simon as a main character. I thought he was interesting, if a bit dramatic, and I enjoyed seeing his world through his eyes. I think Albertalli really captured the aspect of growing up where you realise that everyone around you is changing, and while there’s part of you that wants everything to stay the same it’s still really nice to see it. Simon has two best friends in the form of Nick and Leah, who I kind of wish we got to see more of. He’s also pretty close to Abby, who has recently moved to the school. As Simon is the narrator the narrative very much focuses on him, but there seemed to be a lot going on with Leah in particular in the background. I really liked how Albertalli wrote Simon’s family, especially his parents.
The main plot of the book revolves around a series of emails between Simon and a person who signs themself as Blue. Albertalli includes some of these emails in their own chapters to help structure the narrative. When we meet Simon he has been talking to Blue for a while via email, and on that particular day he is looking forward to a reply from Blue so he isn’t as careful as he could be. This leads to someone else getting their hands on the emails, and the plot of the book sort of falls out from there. I think Albertalli handled the plot both sensitively and realistically, which makes sense considering her background.
The only thing I didn’t enjoy about SIMON vs. THE HOMO SAPIENDS AGENDA was that at times the drama felt a bit forced. There were two instances in particular that just didn’t work for me – but I’m not going to go into detail about them as there would be spoilers, sorry – but apart from that I thought that this was a very strong first novel. If you are a fan of contemporary romances then you should definitely give this book a try.
Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.
DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES by Patricia A. McKillip is a collection of seven short stories. All seven of the stories have a fantastical element to them, but some have more of a horror of science fiction twist. None of the stories are connected, and they all vary in length from quite short to fairly long.
DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES was my introduction to the writing of Patricia A. McKillip. McKillip has published numerous books including The Riddle Master Trilogy, and more recently Kingfisher. I only heard about this short story collection because I read and reviewed another book published by Tachyon Publications and they suggested that I might enjoy this one. I am actually really glad that I had the opportunity to read this collection, as on the whole I thought DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES contained some interesting and well-thought stories that asked some interesting questions. It was a nice collection to dip into and was an enjoyable read.
Weird is the first story in the collection; it is also the shortest at about eleven pages. Obviously I’m not going to go into too much detail about this – or any of the other stories in the collection – because of spoilers, but I thought the concept of the story was interesting. It was a nice quick read, and I’ll be honest it wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I did enjoy it.
Mer is the second story in this collection, and with twenty-four pages is double the length of the previous story. In this one McKillip also told a story I wasn’t really expecting – which seems to be the theme of this collection. I really liked the main character in this one, she seemed quite enigmatic. There is an almost fairy tale like tone to the narrative which I enjoyed.
The Gorgon in the Cupboard is the third story in the collection, and I think perhaps my favourite, it is about seventy-four pages. I liked that this one has two main characters and that we get to see events from both their points of view. I also think it made some interesting comments about how people see things, and what we can miss by not paying attention. I really enjoyed the story and I thought the characters were beautifully written – I especially enjoyed the Gorgon from the title.
Which Witch is the fourth story in the collection, and also probably my least favourite, and is about twenty pages. This story has more of an urban fantasy feel than the rest of the collection. I really enjoyed how McKillip played with the idea of familiars and a witch’s relationship with them.
Edith and Henry go Motoring is the fifth story in the collection and is sixteen pages long. To be honest I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this story. There’s an almost horror story-like tone to the narrative, and it feels quite spooky.
Alien is the sixth story and is fifteen pages long. The title kind of gives it away, but there is definitely a science fiction tone to this short story – although there’s an element of fantasy to it too. I think the story was cleverly crafted, and it asked some interesting questions but I wasn’t a big fan of the ending.
The seventh and final short story in the collection is Something Rich and Strange; it is also the longest story in the collection at around one hundred and thirty-five pages. The story is complex and the narrative is split between the two main characters. Despite its length, I found this to be a reasonably quick read. I liked the fact that the story was split into parts, as this allowed me to take breaks if I wanted to. McKillip created a really interesting story, and I liked the fact that she drew on Greek (I think) mythology but added her own twist.
After the final story there are two final items. First is an explanation by McKillip on how she writes fantasy and deals with the tropes, which I found quite interesting. It’s super short – only six pages – but she does touch on some things that might be good to consider if you’re planning on writing a fantasy book. The final item is an afterword by Peter S. Beagle, who is probably best known for his novel The Last Unicorn.
Overall I really enjoyed DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES and think fantasy fans will enjoy it. I can’t say how it compares to other works by McKillips as this is the only work by her I’ve read, but I can say that it has made me want to explore her previous books and maybe give one of her series a try. If you are a fan of short stories, like fantasy and science fiction and are okay with horror elements then you should definitely give this book a try.
Originally posted on The Flutterby Room. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. You can find the original post here.
A GATHERING OF SHADOWS is the second book in V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series. It continues the stories of Kell and Delilah Bard, and takes place several months after the events of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC. Whilst Delilah is seeking adventure, Kell is facing the consequences of the choices he made, and another London is coming back to life.
I really enjoyed A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, so going into this book I had quite a few expectations and I can honestly say that V. E. Schwab did a great job of meeting them. If you read and enjoyed the first book in this series then I am pretty sure that you will love this one just as much. There is a lot going on in this book! I enjoyed being reunited with Kell and Lila, it was interesting to see how they had changed since I’d last seen them. I also liked seeing a bit more of Red London and the world it’s a part of – the Element Games mentioned in the blurb allows Schwab to show more of the world Kell is from, and I thought it was pretty interesting how Schwab showed different cultures.
The plot of A GATHERING OF SHADOWS at its most simple level is about dealing with the consequences of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC. Of course, Schwab makes it a bit more complicated than that – Schwab weaves numerous plot threads together to tell an interesting and complex story – but that’s the bare bones of the story. I really like the fact that this book, and series, is very much about balance – kind of like Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction – and that Schwab doesn’t gloss over consequences. There were definitely a few plot threads and plot twists I did not see coming at all in this book, and I liked that Schwab kept me guessing.
A GATHERING OF SHADOWS sees the return of some familiar faces, as well as the introduction of some new characters. Kell and Lila are interesting in this book. In a lot of ways, neither of them has really changed since we left them in A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC – it’s familiar finding out what they are doing, and how things have changed for them. But at the same time, things are a little different – and I don’t really want to say too much, because spoilers, but Schwab gives them both interesting story arcs in A GATHERING OF SHADOWS. Schwab also introduces some new characters, of which my favourite is probably Alucard Emery. I’m definitely curious to see more of him, and hopefully we’ll learn more about him in the third book.
Overall I think A GATHERING OF SHADOWS is a fantastic addition to the Shades of Magic series. There were points where I found the reading a bit slow, but equally there were points where I couldn’t put the book down. I really enjoyed re-uniting with Kell and Lila. Schwab does a brilliant job with the world building, and I’m curious to see what’s going to happen in the third book.
Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.
FIRE TOUCHED is the ninth book in the fantastic Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Tension between the fae and humans risk coming to a head in this book when the pack are called upon to stop a rampaging troll from wreaking havoc in the Tri-Cities. Mercy and her husband Adam, the pack’s Alpha, find themselves caught in the middle of something that could cause in a war.
This book was very hard to put down, even though I wanted to make it last for as long as possible! FIRE TOUCHED is another brilliant addition to Mercy’s story, and I really enjoyed watching events unfold. It was a tense and fun read, with the return of some familiar faces as well as the introduction of some new ones. If you like a bit of fun to your reads, then you should definitely give this series a try – Mercy doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Writing this review has been quite difficult, because I want to say how fantastic I found this book and why – but that risks spoilers! And I also want to be coherent, and a couple of drafts for paragraphs have just become rambling gushing about the series in general, rather than this book in specific. So let me say this: I loved this book. I stayed up way past my bedtime to read it, taking one chapter at a time in an attempt to make it last – and to be honest, that didn’t work: I read it in less than a day! If you have read and enjoyed the rest of the Mercy Thompson series then you will love this one too. It contains everything a fan of this series will love, and enough twists and turns that you will be kept guessing.
One of the things I like about this series is the cast of characters that make an appearance, and this book was no exception. I really enjoyed the return of some familiar faces, and some of the new characters definitely seemed interesting. I also enjoyed the fact that Briggs referenced events of her Alpha and Omega series, reminding us that both series take part in the same world.
Like in the rest of the series, Briggs weaves an interesting and complex story that slowly unfolds on the page – even having read the blurb for FIRE TOUCHED I was surprised by some of the things revealed in this book. The story felt very cohesive: FIRE TOUCHED was very much its own story, and at the same time felt very much like it was part of a series. I thought the story was interesting and compelling, and there’s set up in it for a few potential stories in this world, which I’m hoping Briggs will explore.
THE COPPER GAUNTLET is the second book in The Magisterium series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. The book continues the story of Callum Hunt who having completed his first year at the Magisterium, is about to start his second but this time he knows a terrible secret that could have terrible consequences. Despite this Call wants to return to the Magisterium and his friends.
I really enjoyed reading THE COPPER GAUNTLET and thought it was a brilliant addition to The Magisterium series. After the revelation in THE IRON TRIAL I was curious about where the story was going to go and Black and Clare did not disappoint in this book. A lot happens in THE COPPER GAUNTLET in a very short amount of time. On the one hand, there was so much going on that I didn’t even notice this until I reached the final pages of the book. On the other, it has left me desperately hoping that the third book in this series picks up where this one finishes because I want to know more!
Call is a brilliant main character. I think one of the things I most enjoy about him in this book, is his determination to protect those he cares for. He also has really awesome friends in Tamara and Aaron. And I have to take a moment and talk about Havoc, who despite being a wolf and therefore not speaking is a huge presence on the page. He is definitely one of my favourite characters of this series. Call and his friends do a lot of growing up in this book, and I think Black and Clare do a good job in setting up the possibility of future events in this book.
The plot of the book is surprisingly complex, and there are a lot of twists and turns. After the first chapter, I was pretty sure I had an idea where the book was going to go but Black and Clare surprised me. Some of the things I thought might happen did, but there were plenty of other events that I was not expecting at all. THE COPPER GAUNTLET is a strong second book, and in my opinion it really builds on the groundwork of THE IRON TRIAL. The world of The Magisterium is steadily growing more complex, and I have really enjoyed watching events play out so far. I’m curious to see where this series is going.
If you are a fan of magical boarding schools, and have not already done so then be sure to check this series out. There are a lot of elements to this series that are similar to other books in this genre, but Black and Clare approach it in a slightly different direction from what you would expect. As the second book in the series THE COPPER GAUNTLET really adds to the world building of The Magisterium, and we learn more about Call’s story. If you enjoyed THE IRON TRIAL then you will adore this book.
This review was originally published on The Flutterby Room.
THE LANDFILL WAR by Luca Tarenzi is the first book in the Poison Fairies series, and my edition is translated from the Italian by Kieren Bailey. The novel tells the story of Needleye, a fairy who lives in a landfill. Life is hard in the landfill, as the tribe Needleye is part of has to defend itself from other fairy tribes and from seagulls, as well as remain hidden from man. A battery has been spotted on another fairy tribes land, and Needleye is determined to claim it.
THE LANDFILL WAR is a really interesting concept; I don’t think I have ever come across a book about fairies that is set in a dump. Tarenzi makes the situation seem normal, and at the same time fraught with dangers. Tarenzi’s take on fairies is also quite unique, as the fairies in this book seem to be a conglomeration of different fairy species.
One of the things I most enjoyed about this urban fantasy is that Tarenzi drops the reader straight into the action from the first page, and it never seems to stop. If you come into THE LANDFILL WAR and expect there to be some sort of romance – which to be fair, does seem to be quite common in this genre – then you will be disappointed. If, however, you are looking for a book that has action and mystery and politics, then I don’t think you will be disappointed with this book.
Needleye is the main character, and the half-sister of her tribe’s king. As such, she is afforded a lot more leeway than other members of the tribe. At times I found her kind of flat, and I wondered about her motivation – my edition of the book is just over two hundred pages long, and although there is some backstory at times I found it difficult to empathise and relate to the characters. Having said that, Needleye is a kick-ass character, and very strong minded. She also has some very loyal friends in the form of Thaw and Verdigris. The friendship between these three characters is basically what carries the novel, and why I enjoyed reading it.
Plot-wise this book has typical first book syndrome; there is a lot of set-up for later books in this series, and not really a lot going on in this book. That being said I think there is a lot of potential for future books and Tarenzi builds a super interesting world, which I would like to see more of. Although there isn’t a lot of plot, what there is, is quite interesting and somewhat of a page-turner as there are lot of twists and turns, and so many things going on.
THE LANDFILL WAR is full of promise, and if you are a fan of the urban fantasy genre then it may well be worth your while to check it out. If you are looking for something a little different from your usual romance-orientated UF, then this may well be the book for you. Although there are a few things that I would have liked to have been explored more, THE LANDFILL WAR is an enjoyable read.
Originally posted on The Flutterby Room. I got a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
WOLF BY WOLF by Ryan Graudin tells the story of Yael who lives in a world where the Nazis won the Second World War, and she is part of the resistance. A decade after their victory, when Yael is seventeen she is given the mission to kill Hitler.
WOLF BY WOLF is a really fast paced read; once I began reading I fell straight into the story, and struggled to put the book down. The setting and the plot of the novel were brilliantly thought out, and I had to keep turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Graudin creates an intense and very real world, where the stakes are high. As the story unfolds you find yourself hoping that Yael will succeed at her goal.
It’s impossible to talk about WOLF BY WOLF without acknowledging the fact that it’s an alternative history, and one that, to me at least, seems fairly plausible. That in itself is one of the things that I really enjoy about this book – it seems like it could have been a very real possibility, and a scary one at that.
Yael is an intriguing main character; she is at once both alive and tangible on the page, whilst also being like a ghost. It is, I think, part of her charm. Yael and her struggles felt very real to me, and I found myself rooting for her from the beginning. I liked the fact that although Yael is shown to be a very competent and confident young woman, Graudin allows us to see through the cracks in her armour.
Characterization is one of the things that really Graudin really does well in this book. Not just with Yael, but with the other characters that appear in the book. Interesting characters populate the book; although the narrative focuses on Yael, the people she interacts with and watches feel believable. As such, the world of WOLF BY WOLF feels very vibrant and genuine.
WOLF BY WOLF is narrated in the third person, with the narrative moving between now and then. I think that this style worked very well, as it allowed Graudin to slowly paint a picture of what the world is like and to show us who Yael is. It also works because when we learn about Yael’s past it never feels like information dumps; instead it just feels like the next turn in the story.
Although the narrative of WOLF BY WOLF is very much an alternative history, there’s also just a touch of magic to the story. WOLF BY WOLF is the first book of a duology (I think) and as such, the world building is superbly done. As soon as I picked up the book I just powered straight through it, and was breathless by the end. I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on BLOOD FOR BLOOD.
Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.
THE IT GIRL by Katy Birchall is the first book in a new series. They story follows Anna Huntley who finds herself moving from invisible new girl, to hanging with the popular crowd at school when her dad gets engaged to a famous actress.
I should admit from the start that THE IT GIRL is not the type of book I would generally pick for myself; I got it as a gift in a Secret Santa exchange at Christmas. I am a firm believer that sometimes we should test our boundaries, and try new things – you never know, they might surprise you. With that in mind I have given THE IT GIRL three stars out of five because although this book is not my cup of tea, I think that as a humorous contemporary novel it’s not a bad read. I did on the whole quite enjoy reading the book – though it did take me a while to get through it, as I had to put the book down at times and just walk away.
In a lot of ways THE IT GIRL reminds me of the series The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, except Anna’s fame comes through association. The book is narrated by Anna herself, which lets us get into her head. One of the things that I really liked about Anna is that for all her panicking about not being able to fit in, she is quite content to just be herself. The sections of the book where Anna was like this were my favourite parts. Unfortunately, Anna just wants to fit in and this causes her – and everyone else – a few problems along the way.
I don’t really think there’s anything particularly original to the plot of THE IT GIRL. I pretty much guessed what was going to happen just from reading the synopsis – if you’re looking for surprises and twists, this is probably not going to be the book for you. Having said that, Birchall handles Anna’s changing circumstances and ideas really quite well – there is a lot of progression to Anna’s character in this book. The ending does seem a little open, but as this is the first in a series then it’s somewhat to be expected I suppose.
THE IT GIRL is much more about characterization than it is about plot. Anna’s relationships with her parents were not quite what I was expecting. For all that both appear on the page, Anna is the one who seems the most mature. To make up for that Anna has some awesome friends in the form of Jess and Danny, who like her for who she is. I really liked the way that Birchall wrote their friendship; I think it was one of my favourite parts of the book. And of course then there’s Anna’s relationship with Dog, which was absolutely brilliant.
Although THE IT GIRL was not my cup of tea, I did think that for the type of book it is that it is a good read. I also think if you are closer in age to Anna than I am, then you may enjoy the book more.
Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.
JACKABY by William Ritter is the first book in the Jackaby series. It tells the story of newly arrived English immigrant Abigail Rook, who arrives in New Fiddleham, New England at the start of the book. Whilst looking for a place to work, Abigail comes across an ad for an assistant. Having no luck anywhere else, Abigail decides to try her luck with R. F. Jackaby, investigator of the unexplained.
Historically set novels are, to be quite honest, generally not my cup of tea. To be honest, I usually try and avoid them. Having heard that JACKABY was a kind of supernatural Sherlock, I was intrigued and decided to give the novel a go. I can honestly say that JACKABY is the exception to my rule; the book was fun, easy to follow, and a really enjoyable read.
In JACKABY we are introduced to our narrator right as she steps off the ship, and we know from the start that Abigail Rook is someone interesting and out of the ordinary – why else would she be travelling alone to a new country in 1892, when it would be more common for her to have a travelling companion? I found Abigail to be a good narrator; Ritter gives her a good balance of explaining enough, so we know what’s going on, but not too much, so we feel like we’re being led by the nose.
Then there is the eponymous Jackaby, investigator of the unexplained. The comparisons with Sherlock are somewhat apt; though Jackaby is a bit more talkative and deals with the supernatural. Ritter does a good job with the secondary characters. They are on the whole fleshed out and interesting; I’m hoping that we will see more of them in future books.
The plot of the novel focuses on a series of murders committed in New Fiddleham, that Jackaby wishes to investigate. Ritter provides an interesting mix of the ‘normal’ and the supernatural in this book, so that JACKABY is a combination of historical urban fantasy and detective novel. Ritter introduces some new and interesting inhabitants of folklore, a few of which I did not recognise the names of at all.
I enjoyed watching Abigail fall into, and become part of, this new world. Ritter kept me guessing on who – and what – was committing the murders, and there were some nice twists in the narrative as the story unfolds. JACKABY is a good start to the series; it contains a lot of promise for future stories. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, then don’t let the historical nature of this book put you off.
Originally posted on The Flutterby Room.