Category Archives: Fantasy

Review: Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5)

Review: Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5)The Assassain's Blade by Sarah J, Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's, Bloomsbury Children's on March 4th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

I want to congratulate the person who designed these covers, they are freaking amazing!

Okay so this review is months overdue and all I can do is apologise and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s finally Summer. After requesting a copy of Throne of Glass last year on a whim, it has fast become one of my favourite YA series. That’s a tough feat. I adore reading about Celaena’s antics and these short stories were fast-paced, intriguing and had my constant attention. Maas is able to bring out every emotion possible from me including laughter, fear for the characters and sadness. I am not afraid to say I cried a little at the end, that was emotional shiz.

Celaena is the kind of protagonist I love reading about because of her awesome fighting skills and attitude (heellooo, Hardcore Heroines); whilst at the same time I openly wish I was as badass as her. Maas craftily weaves the romance, tension and intrigue together, leaving plenty of room for the interesting sub-plots and back-story. What with that and consistent character development, you’ve got yourself a winner.

I don’t know what to tell you if you haven’t read this series, apart from that it continually amazes and rarely (if ever) disappoints. I’ve read three of this series now and not once have I been let down, which I don’t think has happened to me before with such an intense, Fantasy world. I urge everyone to read this, even if you’re not a major fan of Fantasy because it’s really a fantastic series that offers a lot. It’s the kind of series that will be right at the top of my recommends pile yet I will hand out with caution to my friends in case they spill something on it. (I’m looking at you, Lois).

I want to be Celaena’s best friend, talk books with Dorian and learn to fight with Chaol. I cannot wait for what’s in store for Heir of Fire. I have no reservations on whether it will disappoint as Maas has proved her reliability and each book gets better and better.

Rating: no less than 5 Stars!

Tell me what you think of the series in the comments!

**This book was sent to me by Bloomsbury, however this didn’t affect my review or thoughts on the book one iota’s worth**

 

five-stars

shadow-and-bone_hi-res

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha #1)

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha #1)Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #1
Published by Indigo, Orion on May 17th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Goodreads
five-stars
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.
Buy the Book from Amazon UKBuy the Book from Amazon USABuy the Book from The Book Depository

Alina is just a mapmaker, nothing special. Until one day her power is revealed and she discovers that she has the power to bring light and save lives. Alina is not just a mapmaker any more, she is Grisha. Soon, Alina is sleeping in a soft bed and eating delicious meals. Everyday she is training hard physically and mastering her powers to fight The Shadow Fold, because she is everyone’s only hope.

I’ve heard a lot about this series, and I wasn’t sure whether I was ever going to pick it up. I was reading Stephanie from Stepping out of  the Page’s review of this book and she was saying how words like ‘The Shadow Fold’, ‘Ravka’ and ‘Grisha’ intimidate her, and I 100% agree. What with that and the cover, I thought this book was going to be a major Fantasy book–and not one that I’d like. God know’s why, because the only reviews I see of this book are positive.

Shadow and Bone captured my attention like Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, with similar Fantasy/Historical elements. I’m not sure how I feel about Fantasy, I used to think I didn’t like it but Maas’ and Bardugo’s writing have roped me in and I’m beginning to love the genre.

There are quite a few plot threads, all linking and some that I know are unresolved and are going to hit me in the next book when I least expect it. This world was magical and I adore the premise. Although, I am quite bored of there being a ‘better species’, you know, the one everyone is protecting, with the other species working as slaves. I am so sick to death of that trope. Is there ever a book where both species live in peace or are at least equal? Apparently not.

Still, I liked Alina’s character and I adored her relationship with Mal. They are childhood friends that grew up together, Alina harbours a secret love for Mal ever since they were teenagers. But of course Mal is desirable and not in want of attention from women.

There were many things I could’ve hated about Shadow and Bone, because despite it’s amazing originality, it has a hundred or so cliche’s. For example:

  • Unrequited love for Alina’s childhood best friend
  • An (albeit questionable) love triangle
  • The MC’s life changes over-night
  • Alina is fated to save everyone with her recently discovered power of ‘sunshine’ *snorts* (No really, this was a good plot line, despite how it sounds)

I could go on. But, please don’t let this silly list put you off, because it’s a fantastic book and if you haven’t read it, I dare say it’s a must-read. The Fantasy is really extensive and I loved the world, it was one of the very different elements in the book. It was beautiful and Bardego gave me a clear imagery of every amazing thing in it.

Rating: 5 Stars– I really loved this one, when I least expected it. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to, even if Fantasy is not your thing! You’d be surprised.

five-stars

ThroneofGlass

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on 2nd August 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher

Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens (2 Aug 2012)

ISBN-10: 140883233X

Source: Bloomsbury–thank you! This has in no way affected my honest review!

Goodreads

Amazon UK

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. 

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

This entire world is entrancing and amazing. I was gripped all the way through, which doesn’t usually happen, I get slightly bored at some places. Not with Throne of Glass, plot threads linked seamlessly together and complex characters kept me entertained.

I got so invested in all the characters, not just Celeana. Although Celeana was badass and completely my type of heroine. She’s independent, witty, and has a vulnerable side to her past. She’s the type of character who pulled me in instantly and I rooted for all the way through. She was actually really funny, not what I was expecting from a master assassin. Which is fantastic, I like characters who don’t take themselves too seriously and make me laugh.

Chaol is so mysterious, we are kept in the dark a lot about him, so of course that makes me desperate to know more about his character, and I hope he’s explored more in book 2. He’s the kind of character who doesn’t access his feeling easily and I was kind of frustrated with him!

Prince Dorian reads. I don’t know how many times I have to say how much I love a guy that reads. He’s also an expert swordsman, but he prefers to hunker down with a thoughtful book. He constantly had witty back and forth with Celeana which proved entertaining. I found him so charming!

I adore the character development, how Celeana learns to trust, and actually have friends. She sets in wanting to win this competition, but she’s very loyal, despite how determined she is. Chaol also becomes a little more open, though not as much as I’d hoped! Also, Prince Dorian stops being so fickle!

This love triangle is excruciating, because I don’t have a favourite. I thought I did, at parts I’d be sure it was one person and then I realised I love the other as well. This hardly ever happens, I always have a definite favourite! It’s completely thrown me off!

There were a couple of antagonists to keep things interesting, I get bored with the entire focus being on destroying one bad guy. Some of them are undoubtedly going to cause trouble in the next book.

The world itself is captivating, it’s set in a castle, in a historical time period, which I always enjoy. I honestly loved this book sooo much, and completely recommend it to anyone who enjoys strong heroines (who doesn’t?) and amazing worlds!

I am now mourning this world, and desperate to read the next one!

Rating: 5 Stars!

White-Cat-e1370729168136-1024x442

Review: White Cat by Holly Black (Curse Workers #1)

White Cat by Holly Black
Series: Curse Workers #1
Published by Gollancz on 29th July 2010
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 324
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
three-half-stars

Cassel comes from a family of Curse Workers – people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got any magic, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail – he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago. 

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the cover–I really like it!

This is such an intriguing premise to read about. I don’t read many book where the protagonist is male, so it was refreshing to read White Cat in a different perspective than I usually read Young Adult. Cassel is the black sheep in his family, he is not a Curse Worker. Unlike his two older brothers and his mother, who each have a power to change your emotions, you luck and your memories with simply a touch to the hand. Curse work is illegal, so many become crooks and con men, therefore Cassel has to become the best of the best con men to outsmart those more powerful than him.

Cassel goes to a boarding school and pretends he’s normal, he tries his hardest to blend in and be the average guy everyone wants him to be. Except he’s not really normal. Not only does he come from a family of workers, but he also once killed his best friends Lila—and he enjoyed it. But now he’s filled with self-loathing and he’s found sleep-walking, having dreams that he can’t explain. His brothers are keeping secrets too, so Cassel has to do his best to be conspicuous and out-smart his brothers to reveal the truth.

I really enjoyed White Cat and the premise it was built on. It took me a while to get fully invested because I thought the beginning was quite slow, but once it got going it was a great read. I loved the concept of the conmen and how Cassel tries to excel at lying and playing people, but sometimes messes up.

Cassel is a weird mix of being really flat and at the same time complex. He seemed interesting at the times when he was talking about himself and how he felt about killing Lila and being so out of place in his family. However, the writing style of Holly Black made him seem quite flat at times, and it was a rather weird mix.

I think it got slightly boring at times, but it’s quite a small book and it didn’t take me a lot to keep going, I was interested in seeing the resolution. I really did enjoy it, I just don’t think the characters were interesting enough for me. I wasn’t compelled to read it for the characters, but more the story. I will definitely keep reading this series, as it was a fun read, with intriguing plot-twists and fun con-men elements.

Rating 3.5 Stars

three-half-stars

Elixer_Bound_300dpi1-e1365692500507-1024x953

Review: Elixir Bound by Katie L. Carroll

Elixir Bound by Katie L. Caroll
Published by Self-Published on August 28th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 176
Format: eBook
Source: Given From Author
three-stars

 

  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
  • Published: 28 Aug 2012
  • ASIN: B0093CL4OM

Carroll has created an intricate fantasy world that is completely different from the usual books I read. Katora and her family live on a farm with her younger brother and sister, and their parents. Katora knows that she is going to inherit the farm and work there when she grows older. What she doesn’t know is that her father has the ability to heal people with a special Elixir plant. For many years and generations, one person in her family has had that plant at their fingertips, but when the Kase family need it most, there is none left. Katora and her companions must set off in search of her family’s Elixir, where it grows in the form of a plant. But, not only does she need to find the plant, she also needs to make the decision whether to become the next Kase healer and change the rest of her life’s course. She sets off on the journey with her younger brother and sister—Bhar and Kylene; a trusted family friend–Palafair, and Hirsten—a handsome boy who intrigues Katora and is the son of the powerful mapmaker.

Elixir Bound ‘s world is what I’d call historical fantasy, it’s not set in modern times and it didn’t seem to have modern technology. I enjoyed learning about this world and the quirky things it had. The idea of the maps was really interesting, you can put memories into it and people can watch them. Never before has Hirsten been able to put a memory in the map, it was always his father’s memories people saw, however, Hirsten and Katora realise there’s a connection between them that is more than initial attraction, that involves the maps, and I’m excited to see where that goes. In addition, the storm messages were creative, I’ve never read about anything like that before. People could send messages manipulating the weather to warn others.

The small anni demicks and tilli demick were really cute, they’re about up to humans knees and supposedly are servants, except the Kase family have been treating Palafair as part of the family for years. I don’t want to spoil anyone, but it’s adorable when Palafair dotes on a certain tilli demick.

I liked the horsemen, who were like Yeselda’s powerful minions, however, the antagonist didn’t really infuse me with fear, or make me scared for the characters. I found her slightly disappointing because she didn’t really have an effect on me either way.

Katora was to me, a very realistic character because she was faulted. She was strong, and independent, perfectly capable of being the leader of the group and always protecting people. But, she didn’t seem to be able to get close to anyone—especially Hirsten—which made for fantastic character development throughout the book and hopefully more in the series. It gave her the chance to grow, because on the journey, I felt like she changed a lot and became more mature, she more likely to let other people lead, yet still be able to lead well herself.

I didn’t find the love convincing enough, I’m glad it wasn’t insta-love and that Katora had her own battle about how she felt about him, but I never felt like they had enough tense/sweet/angry conversations, to be in love. I wanted more emotion from them, or something. That’s slightly unfair, because they travel for many months and then fall in love. However, I didn’t get that feeling from Katora; she spent so long trying to figure out what the feelings were, that her sudden realisation at love didn’t seem plausible. I wanted to see more of a connection or tension between the two characters. This was particularly disappointing because they were cute together in the small snippets I read and Hirsten was so sweet.

I enjoyed the intricate world, and Katora was strong and I felt she grew a lot, especially at the end. I did have a slight problem with Yeselda and I wasn’t as convinced by the love as I wanted to be, but I enjoyed the overall story and the characters and though it was an entertaining read.

Rating: 3 Stars

Buy at Amazon.co.uk

Buy at Amazon.com

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KMMnLncRqIw/UEgsVsrtniI/AAAAAAAADUo/Ba4HkwWoCJY/s1600/KatieLCarroll.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]About Katie: Katie Carroll began writing after her 16-year-old sister unexpectedly passed away. Writing was a way for Katie to help her sister live on in the pages of a story. It also made her realize that she wanted to pursue writing as a career. In addition to penning novels for teens and kids, she edits novels, plays soccer, and collects signed copies of books. Katie lives in Connecticut with her husband and son. If you would like to know more about Katie, visit her website: http://www.katielcarroll.com/[/author_info] [/author]

three-stars

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Published by Gollancz on September 3rd 2009
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Bought
three-half-stars

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Published: 3 September 2009
  • ISBN-10: 0575085304
  •  

18-year-old Katsa is the niece of King Randa, living in one of the seven kingdoms in this dystopian/fantasy world. Some people are born with a ‘Grace’, meaning they have a certain skill, but are often feared or exploited for their talents. Born with a killing Grace,  Katsa accidentally killed a man at a very young age. She began to train her lethal ability, at first using sacks filled with grain, perfecting her knife, archery, combat, and sword skills. Her ability to fight and kill was well known, and one day the King; started exploiting her skills to kill or maim anyone who displeased him in the other kingdoms.
For years Katsa is repulsed by the orders she obeys, and later decides to create a Council to secretly defy the King, where she helps people in the kingdoms who have been wronged. On one of her missions, she meets Po, who has a Grace of fighting, and they seem matched in their abilities. They start to train together and their next mission is to find out who kidnapped his grandfather.
Katsa was an interesting person at times and also a little frustrating, because she has only ever had one friend before and doesn’t know how to proceed in any relationship. As Po and Katsa become friends, their relationship was quite relaxed, and it was clear to me, they were going to be more than friends. Katsa grows, as she learns how to mostly trust another person, other than herself. Most of the people in the Kingdom are disgusted by her, and in doing so, making Katsa believe she is a savage monster herself. We see her vulnerable in a relationship and it’s a new experience as she always keeps people at arms length.
Katsa refuses to marry because of her inability to trust, and her desire to be independent her whole life. She can’t bear to wear a dress or have her hair done up, heading straight to the archery building for her comfort zone when she gets upset. It seems like she’s compensating for physical strength, because she feels vulnerable. I understood why Katsa feels she can only trust herself and a handful of other people, and I thought Po and her fit very well as a couple, him being the Yin to her Yang. However, I have two opinions on their relationship. I really liked their relationship when they were friends. I truly believed the build up towards their relationship, but from then on, I was slightly disappointed. I really wanted their love as an opportunity for them to act more as a couple. Having said that, I understand that it’s not Katsa’s type of personality.
The plot had such potential, and there was lots of build up, but the fight scenes were quick and didn’t give me enough time to enjoy them. Katsa was praised a killing phenomenon, yet there were not enough fights to satisfy me. Throughout the book,  I didn’t get enough intrigue and it didn’t leave me guessing. I liked the premise of the story and what Kristin Cashore has built, but the story never hit me hard enough.
The twists and turns in this plot were very interesting, but not un-put-down-able. I really liked the different characters and their development,  enjoying the contrast between Katsa’s badass personality and her vulnerable side. The world Kristin has build is interesting, and I’m excited to see where she takes me in the next book.
I give this a 3.5 Stars

three-half-stars